NEW figures show the number of complaints against Kirklees Council has shot up by a fifth.
The Local Government Ombudsman yesterday announced it had received 133 complaints against the council in 2010/11 – an increase of 20% on the year before.
There were 31 complaints about housing issues, 27 concerning education and children’s services and 21 over planning and development.
The ombudsman received 20 complaints about benefits and tax, 14 concerning environmental services and eight over adult care services.
Highways and transport also attracted eight complaints and there were four about corporate services.
In 2009/10 the ombudsman received 110 complaints about Kirklees. A council spokesman said last night that the ombudsman’s figure of 133 complaints for 2010/11 was misleading since 41 of them had been judged “premature”.
He said: “The headline results published by the ombudsman’s office do not necessarily give an accurate picture of the number of Kirklees Council complaints formally considered by the ombudsman.
“The overall figure of 133 is misleading as the council has actually received fewer than half that number of complaints for investigation.
“As the ombudsman report shows, out of 133 cases, a total of 41 were ‘premature’ – this means they went to the ombudsman before the council had an opportunity to deal with them through complaints procedures.
“A further 28 cases were dealt with through informal advice from the ombudsman service, leaving 64 which were actually investigated.
“This is a slight fall from last year’s total of 66 and it is unclear why the ombudsman has received more premature complaints and provided more informal advice this year.
“The council has a robust complaints procedure, with each service having dedicated officers responsible for dealing with complaints and ensuring improvements are made where necessary.”
The ombudsman received 75 complaints about Calderdale last year – up from 45 in 2009/10.
The number of complaints about Wakefield dropped from 71 to 67 and in Bradford from 172 in 2009/10 to 124 the following year.
The ombudsman received 299 complaints about Leeds in 2010/11 – up from 272 the year before.
Anne Seex, ombudsman for West Yorkshire, said: “In dealing with complaints the ombudsman fulfils two important functions – securing remedies for people affected by mistakes or poor systems and encouraging councils to learn from complaints.
“In 27% of the complaints that we investigate we achieve a resolution of something that has gone wrong. My annual review letter highlights issues arising from such complaints for the attention of elected councillors and the public.
“I hope that this will help councils to improve local public service delivery and benefit the wider community.”