Islington named and shamed as one of worst councils for complaints

Islington Council has been named and shamed for having one of the worst complaint records in the country.

Town hall watchdog the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) this week revealed it took on 113 complaints about Islington in 2011 – the 14th highest of any local authority in England.

Opposition leader Cllr Terry Stacy said the figure is the “tip of the iceberg” because the LGO only deals with issues the council has failed to resolve.

He said: “They are complaints that have already gone through the council’s procedures and not been resolved. That’s what makes them even more outrageous - and they are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of overall complaints.”

The figures were published in response to a parliamentary question tabled by the Labour MP for Bassetlaw, John Mann, and do not include “enquiries” - complaints referred back to the council or to other bodies by the LGO.

The LGO ordinarily releases data broken down by financial year. Those figures show the total number of complaints and enquiries soared by 40 per cent from 162 in 2009/2010 to 227 in 2010/2011.

Lib Dem Cllr Stacy added: “This huge rise in complaints shows it is more a case of the council being on residents’ backs than on their side.”

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The last financial year saw one case where the council took over a month to contact the psychiatrist of a homeless person with mental health problems who was seeking help – and then lost the response.

In another, compensation was paid to a homeless woman who was left to spend 10 days on a friend’s floor before being given temporary accommodation, despite being seven months pregnant. The council also paid out �3,000 after a disabled child missed a year of school because of administrative problems.

Islington Council responded that the total number of complaints it received - the vast majority of which do not go to the LGO – actually fell by 19 per cent from 2,555 in 2010 to 2,058 in 2011.

Cllr Catherine West, leader of Islington Council, said: “Complaints have continued to fall over the past five years. Last year the Ombudsman found no maladministration, indeed their office has praised Islington for our work on complaint handling and best practice. Complaints in Islington are going down year on year while we have led the way in protecting frontline services against government cuts.”