Information for staff

Here you will find information for Northumberland County Council employees including health and safety, staff induction, human resources and e-learning.

Here you will find quick links for employees of Northumberland County Council.

Staff email access

Expenses claim system

This page gives an overview of the authority for new staff members.

The objectives of staff induction are to integrate staff into the organisation and provide them with access to resources to perform their job efficiently and effectively within a short timeframe.

Objectives also include providing support to enable staff to:
  • understand their role within the organisation
  • contribute effectively to the success of the organisation
  • understand processes, procedures, structures and standards
  • develop a positive attitude to their work and the organisation
  • be aware of their legal responsibilities, including those relating to fellow staff and to health and safety
  • enhance staff retention within the organisation
The induction programme should introduce the employee to their working environment and their job, including colleagues, expectations of conduct and performance.

The aim of induction is to make the employee feel an integral part of the department and the council, and to enable them to settle into their job so they can become productive and effective quickly.

To find out more about induction, simply select the induction scheme document in the table below. Staff should receive a service-led induction as well as the corporate induction.

A new member of staff may find the following documents useful as a starting point.
  • For more information about health and safety, see below.
  • To find out more about staff pensions, see further down this page.
For more information on staff induction, please contact the learning and organisational development team on 01670 624803.
The corporate health and safety team provides advice to managers and other employees of Northumberland County Council.

Particular members of the team also provide advice and information to schools and other county council establishments on the subject of outdoor educational visits.  In addition, the team provide advice to partner organisations such as Active Northumberland and to some school academies.

Please note that public health and safety concerns should be directed to either the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) (who enforce health and safety legislation in industrial and high risk premises) or the county council's public protection service for non-industrial premises such as shops, offices, restaurants etc.

NEW Accident, Near Miss and Violent Incident Logging System (ANVIL)

On 1 April 2018 a new incident reporting system was introduced across all NCC services (other than Schools, which will be able to access the system later in the year).  A new e-form replaced the paper forms ‘Accident/Near Miss Form (ACC1)’ and the ‘Violent Incident Report Form (VI)’ which had been in use for a number of years.  A Health and Safety Bulletin provides further information and includes links to updated policies. 

Please note that any incident occuring on or after 1 April 2018 should be recorded via ANVIL; any incidents recorded and submitted to the Corporate Health and Safety Team on the ACC1/VI forms will be returned with a request to log the incident on ANVIL.

To comply with data security requirements, to access the ANVIL e-form you must be on the NCC network in an NCC building or have an NCC device, such as a laptop or tablet, with direct access to the network.  If using a chromebook, you will need to be in the Citrix group. 

Schools

Schools should continue to report incidents via the ACC1/VI form until further notice. 

 


To log an incident via ANVIL please select the link below: 

LOG AN INCIDENT VIA ANVIL (NOT FOR USE BY SCHOOLS)

A training video on completion of the form is also available:

ACCESS VIDEO TRAINING MODULE

 

If you have any questions regarding the use of the e-form, please contact your Health and Safety Advisor or any member of the Corporate Health and Safety Team on 01670 623854.  If you require assistance with access, or have a technical issue with using the e-form, please log a help desk call with the NCC IT Department. 


Incident Reporting in Schools

Schools should continue to record incidents on the forms provided below.  Please note, managers must complete the signatory section to confirm they have viewed the form.

Accident Reporting Violent Incident Reporting

Guidance documents for Schools

Please refer to the relevant guidance documents provided below:


Statutory reporting to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The council has a duty to report certain injuries and incidents to the health and safety executive, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. The forms for reporting incidents online to the HSE can be accessed by clicking the necessary link:


Incident investigation

Here you will find general risk assessment forms, templates and guidance documentation
pic

Risk assessment forms: templates and guidance
Provided below are an assortment of blank risk assessment forms and guidance documents on how to complete these.

General risk assessments
Below are a range of general risk assessments to assist managers in completing risk assessments, the content of which should be added to and edited as required. 

 

School risk assessments
The risk assessments below are relevant to activities in all schools. The content should be added to and edited as required.

Provided below are policy and guidance documents relating to health and safety.   Further detailed policy information can also be found in the Corporate Health and Safety Manual and Schools' Health and Safety Manual:

Fire logbook

Safeguarding and security self-help kit for schools

Staying safe while using social media
To help keep you safe online, staff who use social media are encouraged to complete the training module ‘getting started using social media’, which is available to access via the council’s learning together e-learning system.

  • Click here for further advice on the use of social media.

Documents:

The corporate health and safety policy manual for managers and other employees of Northumberland County Council is available below. A separate manual is available for those staff working in schools.

Managers should ensure that any paper copies of the policy manual retained on their premises are kept up to date. Any changes made to the manual will be published below.  Where there are significant changes in policy these will also publicised via health and safety groups and staff bulletins:
The health and safety manual for schools is available below for use by all employees and managers in schools. A separate manual exists for all other council employees.

Headteachers or managers should ensure that any paper copies of the policy manual retained on their premises are kept up to date. Any major changes made to the manual will be publicised via the schools e-courier and published on this webpage:
This page details the information and documentation required in order to ensure that employees’ exposure to hand arm vibration is suitably managed.

road drill For further information on this subject, please click here.

cleaning picture
 
As an employer, Northumberland County Council is required, by law, to display the health and safety executive approved health and safety law poster in a prominent position in each workplace. This informs workers of the responsibilities that they and their employer have in relation to health and safety at work. The poster is available in two sizes: the standard A2 size and a smaller A3 version.

As an alternative for peripatetic workers, leaflets and pocket cards are also available.
health and safety law poster

Where can I purchase the poster?
It is available from various bookshops, health and safety executive books, and the supplies team, who are the council’s stationary supplier. No central budget is available to fund this. Leaflets and pocket cards can be downloaded, free, by clicking this link.

Contacts?
Once your new poster has arrived, you should add the names of the health and safety representatives and health and safety contacts.

Health and safety representatives
This should include the contact details of any staff health and safety representatives

Other health and safety contacts
The contact details for the corporate health and safety team should be added:

Visits involving children and young people
The county council uses an online visit notification system called EVOLVE. This system is currently used by 102 other local authorities across the country. Schools and other establishments, undertaking outdoor educational visits involving children and young people, can access EVOLVE by clicking here. Further guidance and policy documents can also be accessed via this system.

For further information or assistance please contact either:
  • Nigel Chopping, Health and Safety Advisor - 01670 623807
  • Joan Comb, Technical Assistant - 01670 623805
Visits involving adults
For outdoor visits involving adult service users, this pre-journey checklist should be utilised.
Learning Together is the online learning environment for employees of Northumberland County Council.

Here you will find information on human resources for staff, including HR policies, guidelines and procedures.

We are currently in the process of reviewing this page, if you require a policy or form please contact human.resources@northumberland.gov.uk or call us on 01670 626 150
.

Northumberland County Council Pension Fund is part of the Local Government Pension Scheme
(LGPS), which is a statutory, funded pension scheme. The benefits of the Scheme are defined and
guaranteed in law. The participating employers in the Northumberland County Council Pension
Fund as at 31 March 2017 are shown below:
Northumberland County Council

Scheduled employers Admitted employers
Ashington Town Council 
Berwick Academy 
Blyth Academy (part of Northern Education Trust) 
Blyth Quays Academy 
Choppington Parish Council 
Corbridge Parish Council 
Cramlington Learning Village Academy 
Cramlington Village Primary School (free school) 
Emmanuel Schools Foundation (formerly Bede Academy)
Hadrian Learning Trust 
Haltwhistle Community Campus Academy 
Hexham Town Council 
Meadowdale Academy
Morpeth Town Council
Northumberland College 
Northumberland Church of England Academy
Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation
Authority
Northumberland National Park Authority
Northumbria Magistrates Courts Committee
Pax Christi Academy
Ponteland Town Council
Prudhoe Adderlane Primary (part of Wise Academies)
St. Matthew’s Catholic Academy (part of St.Thomas
More Partnership)
Seaton Valley Council
Three Rivers Learning Trust Academy
West Bedlington Town Council

Admitted employers
Action for Children
Active Northumberland
Age UK Northumberland
Barnardo's Services Ltd
Berwick Borough Housing Ltd (part of Bernicia Group)
Bullough Cleaning Services Ltd
Feversham School
Isos Housing Ltd
Northumberland Aged Mineworkers Homes Association
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Queens Hall Arts
The Disabilities Trust
The Maltings (Berwick) Trust
Wansbeck Homes (part of Bernicia Group)
Woodhorn Charitable Trust

Local authority (and other eligible) employees other than those aged over 75, teachers and fire-
fighters, are automatically admitted to the LGPS, unless they opt out. Automatic enrolment
legislation also applies to all eligible workers.

Northumberland County Council Pension Fund collects contributions from active members of the
LGPS and their employers. It pays pensions and related expenses incurred in administering the
LGPS. Surplus funds, not needed for the day-to- day expenses, are invested with external fund
managers for long term growth.

As a funded scheme, contributions received from employers and employees and transfer values
received are invested in the Fund to meet the benefits when they fall due. Future returns on
investments and future benefits payable are not known in advance, therefore the employer
contributions payable are regularly reviewed (every three years) by the Fund actuary to ensure their
adequacy for the Fund’s long term solvency. The last statutory actuarial valuation of the Fund was
carried out as at 31 March 2016. Investment, inflation and longevity risks are carried by the
employers and not by the individual Scheme members.
 
Go to www.twpf.info

South Tyneside Council (STC) as the administering authority of Tyne and Wear Pension Fund
provides LGPS pension administration services for Northumberland County Council (NCC) as part of a
shared LGPS administration service which began in January 2018. Further information about this
can be found at Q&A's.

Members’ Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) rights are completely unaffected by the shared
administration service.

All communication with Scheme members, including forms to be completed, will be headed as
follows:
 
                    
 
South Tyneside Council
                 Providing pension services for        Tyne and Wear Pension Fund and
   
Pensions Office
Town Hall and Civic Offices, Westoe Road, South Shields, Tyne and Wear 
NE33 2RL 
Tel: 0191 424 4141
 
 
Northumberland County Council Pension Fund   @ | pensions@twpf.info  
    Web: www.twpf.info
 
 
LGPS members can find out about the Scheme from the website at www.twpf.info.

The website has guides to the Scheme and forms for members to complete, such as change of
address form and opt out form.

For any questions, members can write, email or telephone:

The Pensions Office 
Town Hall and Civic Offices
Westoe Road
South Shields
Tyne and Wear
NE33 2RL
0191 424 4141    Please visit the Contact Page for further details
Email:  pensions@twpf.info
Both NCC and STC, as LGPS administering authorities, are data controllers in relation to any personal
data processed for the administration of LGPS pensions, and will handle this information on a strictly
confidential basis. For further information about how members’ data will be processed, please see
the Privacy Notices at both:
From a LGPS member’s first day of employment both his/her employer and the Pensions Office
make decisions under the Scheme rules that affect his/her Local Government Pension Scheme
(LGPS) benefits.

If a member thinks a decision is incorrect or is unhappy with it, then the Pensions Office has an
Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure to resolve any problems. Details are available from the
leaflet “Unhappy with your Pension Rights
Functions carried out by South Tyneside Council providing a shared administration service to NCCPF and TWPF
 
Functions carried out by the Finance Directorate, Northumberland County Council
  • membership record keeping;
  • Scheme member communications;
  • pensioner payroll;
  • annual benefit statements;
  • maintaining and developing pensions administration system; and
  • calculation of estimates and benefits.
  • managing investments;
  • actuarial valuation process;
  • accounts;
  • collection of contributions;
  • Fund governance (Pension Fund Panel and Board);
  • strategic decisions and policies; and
  • new and exiting employers

Action Plan 2018
Administering Authority Discretions Policy
Administration Strategy
Annual Report and Accounts 2016-17
Communication Policy
Conflicts of Interest Policy
Funding Strategy Statement
Fund Objectives
Governence Policy and Compliance Statement
Investment Strategy Statement 2018
Panel Decisions Assessment 2017-18
Pension Fund Cash Pooling Policy
Procedure for Reporting Breaches of the Law
Training Policy for NCC Pension Fund

Useful Contacts

Andrew Lister
Principal Accountant (Pensions)
Finance - Corporate Resources
County Hall
Morpeth
NE61 2EF
Email: Andrew.Lister@northumberland.gov.uk
Tel: 01670 620146
 

The four person board was established in 2015 to oversee the council's pension scheme, along with a chairman of the board.

The role of the board is to:
  • make sure we comply with the LGPS regulations and any other legislation relating to the governance and administration of our pension scheme
  • make sure any LGPS requirements imposed by the pensions regulator are met
  • make sure our governance and administration of the LGPS is effective and efficient
The board oversees these matters but it is not a decision making body in relation to the management of the pension fund or administration of the LGPS. Instead the board makes recommendations to assist in the management of pensions. 
  • There are four members of the board, or five if an independent chair is deemed necessary.
  • Only the four members of the board, and not the independent chair, have voting rights.
The two employer representatives are:
(i) a Northumberland County councillor who does not sit as a voting member of the Pension Fund Panel, and
(ii) the non-voting employer representative who sits as observer on the Pension Fund Panel;

The two scheme member representatives are:
(i) one of the three non-voting member representatives who sit as observers on the Pension Fund Panel, and
(ii) a pensioner, sourced by seeking interest via the pensioner newsletter

There are a minimum of two meetings per year, with the option for the chair of the board to call more. 

Employer representatives:

Councillor Bernard Pidcock, Northumberland County Council 
Appointed to the board May 2015  - email: Bernard.Pidcock@northumberland.gov.uk


Helene Adams, Finance officer at Northumberland National Park Authority
Employer Representative Observer, Northumberland County Council Pension Fund Panel
Appointed to the board in June 2015 - email: helene.adams@nnpa.org.uk or adamsmha@btinternet.com
 

Scheme member representatives:

Sue Dick, Library Assistant at Active Northumberland and Unison steward (Northumberland branch) 
Employee/pensioner member representative observer on the Pension Fund Panel 
Appointed to the board in June 2015 - email: SDick@activenorthumberland.org.uk or suedick250@hotmail.com

John Clark LGPS pensioner representative on the board
Appointed to the board in June 2015 - email: jpclark975@hotmail.com
 

Independent chair:

Gerard Moore, CIPFA
Appointed to the Board July 2015 - email: gfm@gerardmoore.co.uk
The appointments process for each member of the board is set out in the board's terms of reference below.

Terms of reference
The Firefighters' Pension Scheme (FPS) for Northumberland Fire and Rescue is administered by Northumberland County Council.

The Firefighter’s Pension Scheme 2015 came into force on 1 April 2015.

FPS 2015 summary:

  • Pension based on 1/59.7th of pay
  • Normal Pension Age (NPA) of age 60
  • Individual CARE Pension Account
  • Active pension account revalued in line with Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) index
  • Deferred and pensioner benefits revalued in line with Consumer Price Index (CPI)
  • Can buy Added Pension
  • Partial retirement possible from age 55
  • Employer initiated early retirement
  • Commute pension to lump sum at rate of 12:1
  • Ill Health cover
  • Death in service benefits
  • Family/Dependants benefits
With the introduction of FPS 2015 there are now four membership categories:
  • Fully Protected (FPS 1992 and FPS 2006) – Stay in current Scheme.
  • Tapered (FPS 1992 and FPS 2006) – Don’t start accruing ‘CARE’ until a date later than 1 April 2015
  • No Protection (FPS 1992 and FPS 2006) – Benefits accrue in 2015 scheme from 1st April 2015.
  • Modified Retained Firefighters
Firefighters’ pension scheme 2015 calculator
This calculator was produced by DCLG and can be used to work out how the new firefighters’ pension scheme 2015 will affect you.
 
West Yorkshire Pension Fund
PO Box 67
Bradford
BD1 1UP
 
West Yorkshire Pension Fund’s Pensions Website: www.wypf.org.uk/firefighters
Email: pensions@wypf.org.uk
Telephone: West Yorkshire Pension Fund’s Pension Helpline 01274 434999
The four person Board was established in 2015, in accordance with the Public Service Pensions Act 2013, to assist Northumberland County Council, in its capacity as Fire and Rescue Authority, in the governance and administration of the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (FPS).

Note:  The FPS Local Pension Board is not a local authority committee.
The role of the Board is to assist Northumberland County Council as Scheme Manager:
  • to secure compliance with the FPS Regulations and any other legislation relating to the governance and administration of the Scheme, and requirements imposed in relation to the FPS by the Pensions Regulator: and 
  • to ensure the effective and efficient governance and administration of the FPS.
 
The Council considers the FPS Local Pension Board to provide oversight of these matters and, accordingly, the FPS Local Pension Board is not a decision making body in relation to the management of the FPS.  Instead the Board can make recommendations to assist in such management of the FPS.
There are four members of the Board, all with voting rights.
 
The two Employer Representatives are:
 
            Two NCC councillors other than the Chairman of the Pension Fund Panel or
            members of the Disputes Panel (Fire Service);
 
The two Scheme Member Representatives are:
 
            (i)    a FPS Union Representative, and
            (ii)   a FPS active or pensioner member, sourced by seeking interest from
       members via a direct request.
 
There are a minimum of two meetings per year, with the option for the Chair of the Board to call more.
Membership and Contact Details
 
Employer Representatives:
 
Councillor Malcolm Robinson       malcolm.robinson@northumberland.gov.uk
Councillor member of Northumberland County Council
  • appointed to the Board in September 2017
 
Councillor Ian Swithenbank     ian.swithenbank@northumberland.gov.uk
Councillor member of Northumberland County Council
  • appointed to the Board in September 2017
Scheme Member Representatives:

 Guy Tiffin                       guy.tiffin@northumberland.gov.uk    
                                         Guy.tiffin@fbu.org.uk
  FBU bridge official (Northumberland County branch)
  Watch Manager (NCC Fire & Rescue Service)
  • appointed to the Board in September 2015
 
Stephen Richards            Richards.carole@sky.com
FPS active/pensioner member representative on the Board
  • appointed to the Board in September 2015
 
Chair of the Board:
 
Stephen Richards                     Richards.carole@sky.com
  • appointed to the Board in September 2015
Can be accessed from the link below:     

 
The appointments process for each member of the Board is set out in the Terms of Reference

The Appointments Panel (as defined in the Terms of Reference) did not deem it necessary to appoint an independent chair of the Board at inception.

 The Appointments Panel held interviews in September 2015 to select the active/pensioner member representative, and selected the Chair of NCC’s FPS LPB after making that appointment.

Terms of reference


 
Welcome to the webpage for legal services which is part of the council’s corporate resources directorate.

Legal services is continually facing significant challenges both in terms of service review and identifying recurring savings to assist the council as a whole in achieving efficiency savings in these times of austerity.
Legal services provides advice and support across the full range of council functions and has developed a number of service level agreements (SLAs) with other organisations for the provision of legal services.

These SLAs are constantly reviewed and meetings with client departments are held in the normal course of business.

Our key customers are:
  • the various county council groups and its arm’s length management organisations
  • elected members
  • town & parish councils
  • NHS
  • academies and various government agencies, together with other clients for who we act under service level agreements
The overall aim of the legal team is to provide a full legal service to the council and those other bodies to who it provides services under service level agreements or other arrangements.
 
Aims
  • We advise and support members, senior officers and their staff and various council bodies and panels on all legal and related matters.
  • We provide advocacy services to ensure the council is appropriately represented in the various levels of courts and tribunals.
  • We proactively advising our clients on developments in the law and assisting them with preparing for any consequential effects on their services.
  • In the case of clients, other than the council itself, we provide the legal services stipulated in the service level agreements or other arrangements with those clients.
Objectives
We provide and maintain legal advice and support to front line services, other central support services and the council by:
  • protecting the integrity of the council and ensuring sound governance
  • providing legal services and advice to clients other than the council itself in accordance with service level agreements or other arrangements
  • continuously improving services and value for money by appraising performance, developing staff and reviewing practices and procedures
  • listening to customers and partners and developing stakeholder relationships
  • actively supporting the democratic process and reviews of the constitution
The service has recently signed up to the Law Society’s diversity and inclusion charter.

The Law Society diversity and inclusion charter is the flagship diversity initiative of the legal profession.

It is an instantly recognisable public statement of commitment by its signatories and a framework for positive action across all strands of diversity.
Legal services is made up of four teams, children and adult services, corporate and governance, regulation and legal support.

Children & adult services

Peter Tilson – principal solicitor

Work:

  • We advise children’s services on issues arising from care of young persons, providing advice, drafting legal proceedings and representing them in court relating to child protection and adoption.
  • We provide advice to independent reviewing officers from North Tyneside Council, chairing child protection conferences as required.
  • We advise children’s services on disclosure of information under the Data Protection Act, and represent children’s services in court on matters relating to public interest immunity.
  • We advise Northumberland Safeguarding Children Board.
  • We advise Northumberland County Council's adoption and fostering panels.

We advise Northumbria Healthcare Service on:

  • care in the community
  • vulnerable adults, the elderly and adults with learning/physical disabilities and mental health problems
  • matters affecting service users
  • complaints
  • probate and court protection matters including advocacy
  • residents' disputes and determinations
  • court of protection, receivership and lasting power of attorney
  • deprivation of assets and avoiding care fees
  • drafting of policies and procedures for Northumbria Healthcare Service
  • Northumberland Safeguarding Adults Board and committee membership
  • the safeguarding adults co-ordinator in respect of individual cases and general protection
  • complaints against the  council and/or Northumbria Healthcare Service
Corporate & governance

Helen Lancaster – principal solicitor (Monday - Thursday)

Work:

  • We advise on the ethical standards regime as it affects county councillors and town and parish councils.
  • We support the council’s systems for dealing with local assessment, investigation and determination of complaints about members’ conduct.
  • We advise on the requirements of the council’s constitution, finance and contract rules.
  • We advise on legal issues arising from the ombudsman and other complaints.
  • We advise in issues relating to Newcastle Airport Local Authority Holding Company Ltd.
  • We deal with corporate issues, such as human rights and freedom of information.
  • We provide legal representation at complaints panels.
  • We advise about trusts and charities.
  • We advise about pensions issues, including part-time pension claims.
  • We advise about the Data Protection Act.
  • We advise about the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
  • We advise about copyright issues.
  • We advise children’s services and schools on issues such as admissions, exclusions and special educational needs.
  • We providing legal advisory and litigation services for procurement.
  • We deal with all the associated council activities regarding property acquisition and disposal.
  • We provide contractual and procurement advice across the council.
  • We provide advice to the local services group about open spaces, cemeteries and allotments.
  • We work in respect of legal charges.
  • We brief Counsel or other experts if engaged for advisory and advocacy services.
  • We advise on human resources policies and handling employment tribunals, including advocacy.
Regulation

Neil Masson - principal solicitor

Work:

  • We advise on and undertake planning and environmental health enforcement action through service of notices and appearances in court.
  • We attend and advise planning, licensing and regulatory committees.
  • We appear for the council and advocate its case in relation to appeals against the licensing authority’s decision not to grant licenses in relation to the sale of alcohol, provision of public entertainment and taxi drivers’ operators.
  • We advise about community safety, including information sharing and the council’s obligations under the Crime and Disorder Act.
  • We advise, prepare and present antisocial behaviour order applications in the magistrates’ court.
  • We apply for injunctions, housing possession and other civil remedies in support of the council’s antisocial behaviour initiative.
  • We advise on and conduct criminal prosecutions on behalf of trading standards.
  • We brief Counsel or other experts if engaged for advisory and advocacy services.
  • We advise the fire service on a variety of issues.
  • We advise on and conduct prosecutions of parents for failing to send their children to school under the Education Act.
  • We advise on conducting breach proceedings on behalf of the youth offending team in respect of young people who breach criminal orders.
  • We provide advisory and litigation services for highways, rights of way and village green matters.
  • We attend and advise the rights of way committee.
  • We advise on environmental issues.
This procedure has been introduced for use by legal services’ clients in accordance with our commitment to providing a quality, client responsive legal service and to the continuous improvement of that service.

This procedure covers both complaints and also more general comments clients may wish to make about the service they have received from legal services or suggestions for improvement of the service.

A copy of this procedure is sent to each client department and to each school and any other organisation which has a service level agreement with legal services.

It may be necessary to update this procedure to incorporate any revisions found necessary through experience of operation or through client comments.

If the procedure requires updating then a copy of the revised procedure will be sent to each client department, school and organisation with a service level agreement.

In any event client departments, schools and those other organisations will receive a copy of the current procedure with each re-issue of the legal services’ client care information document.
Any client who wishes to make a formal complaint about the way that a matter has been handled or about any other aspect of the service provided by legal services should initially send details of their complaint, in writing, to the legal services manager.

Legal services is committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or the bill, please contact:

Liam Henry, Legal Services Manager in writing to Legal Services Unit, Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland NE61 2EF.

We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available on the council’s website here.

The process

  • The legal services manager will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within seven days of its receipt.
  • The legal services manager will investigate the complaint and provide a response to the complainant within 28 days of receipt of the complaint.
  • In exceptional circumstances, if a full response cannot be provided within 28 days of receipt of the complaint, the legal services manager will write to the complainant within 28 days informing the complainant of when he/she will receive a full response.
  • If you are dissatisfied with the response of the legal services manager, the complainant should write to the head of corporate resources explaining why he/she is dissatisfied with the response.
  • Every complaint will be recorded by the head of corporate resources/legal services manager in a register which will contain brief details of the complaint and its outcome. Each complaint and all associated correspondence will be kept on a file maintained by the head of corporate resources/legal services manager.
  • If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the legal ombudsman to consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the legal ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint or within a year of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or you becoming aware of it).
Legal services also welcome any comments you may wish to make upon the service you have received or any suggestions you may have for its improvement.

If clients have any such suggestions or comments, they should write to the legal services manager.

The legal services manager will acknowledge and respond to any such comments or suggestions within seven days of receipt. If a comment or suggestion requires a detailed response which cannot be provided within seven days it will be provided within 28 days.
The legal services manager will conduct an annual review of all complaints and comments received during the year under this procedure to ensure that all actions to be taken by legal services in response to a complaint or comment have been taken, and that any improvements to the service implemented in response have been maintained.