Councillors heard this week that 696 complaints had been recorded – one for every 164 Borders residents – in the 12 months to March 2014 and that over 30% had been upheld.
However, the level of grievance cannot be compared to previous years as SBC only formalised its complaints handling procedure (CHP) in April, 2013.
A report to Tuesday’s meeting of the council executive – the first since the system was introduced – did not specify which departments elicited most public criticism.
However, it revealed that bullying among schoolchildren was “one of the most common themes of education complaints”.
As a result of the complaints, the council was now working with parent councils and school staff to raise awareness among concerned parents of the so-called ‘respectful relationship’ policy.
In another example of a lesson being learned from a disgruntled citizen, letters to those entitled to Council Tax exemptions and discounts had now been reworded to ensure all recipients are aware such exemptions can expire during a year and the full amount then charged.
“We are committed to providing high quality services, but occasionally things go wrong,” admitted chief executive Tracey Logan in her foreword to the report.
“When this happens it is important we act quickly to address and resolve the situation. Complaints indicate where we fell short of what people expected and sometimes where we are failing to meet our own standards. We use this information to make service improvements.”
Of the 696 complaints received, 85 were made in person at council offices or contact centres, 231 were submitted by telephone, 221 were lodged online, 78 were conveyed by letter and 81 by email.