One of our main jobs as elected officials is to take up your cases and ensure public bodies are acting in a consistent, fair and appropriate manner. Unfortunately as a two tier authority it is often difficult to find out who you should speak to and how best to present your case. To help we’ve produced a few top tips.
Step 1: Find the right body to approach
In Canterbury district different things are handled by the County Council, District Council and Parish Councils. Click on the boxes below to find out what each of them does.
All Members of Parliament have teams of caseworkers to help their constituents. You can contact your MP to raise concern about policy issues i.e. things you think the government should be doing differently, parliamentary issues i.e. the way you think they should be voting on key issues or personal issues largely to do with how government bodies are working.
MP’s can help you with personal problems relating to:
- Immigration and asylum
- Benefits and tax credits
- Access to education
- Access to healthcare
- Access to justice and the actions of the police
- Access to housing & homelessness
- Disputes with utility companies and debt
MPs normally hold a ‘surgery’ in the constituency on a regular basis so that people can talk to them directly. They can take up complaints that government departments, agencies and some other public bodies that have not acted properly or have provided a poor service.
Kent County Council elects its own councillors once every four years. In our area the County Council provide the vast majority of public services. In particular they run:
- Highways (roads, pavements and public rights of way)
- Transport Planning inc the commissioning of local bus networks
- Social Care
- School transport
- Country parks
- Waste disposal (recycling centres not street collections)
Issues related to any of the above should be taken up with your local County Councillor. Click here to search for who your local County Councillor is.
City Councillors can lobby County Councillors on your behalf but it is there responsibility to respond to your concerns. City Councillors are part of a Joint Transportation Board which meets quarterly and can allow for us to raise issues directly related to highways with the County Council.
Click here for more information on who to contact at Kent County Council.
Canterbury City Council elect 38 councillors every four years of which Labour Councillors number ten. Canterbury City Council has responsibility for:
- Council housing, which we currently administer through East Kent Homes
- Leisure & Recreation services (including parks)
- Public Car Parking
- Environmental Health
- Waste Collection
- Planning Application
- Collection of local tax
The City Council work closely with Kent Police on enforcement actions against anti-social behaviour through the Local Community Safety Team. Click here to find your local city councillor.
Labour councillors are able to advise on how to deal with issues when we are not your local councillor but we will do this in liaison with the person elected to represent your area.
Approximately 60% of voters in Canterbury District also elect Parish Councillors once every four years, predominantly in our rural villages. Parish councils are responsible for:
- Smaller local parks
- Some community centres
- Allotments / cemetries
- Street lighting
- War memorials
They have the ability to be able to raise a ‘precept’ (tax) to help pay for services they think are important in the local area and are regularly consulted with on planning issues within their area.
Parish councils are normally administered by a Clerk who should be your first point of call. People are not elected to Parish Councils to represent a particular political party.
Step 2: Decide who best to approach
Whilst elected officials exist as a channel to raise a complaint we commonly won’t make a decision related to your case. If you have a specific problem with a local service you should consider approaching an officer at the Council about it first.
Both Kent County Council and Canterbury City Council have public switchboards where you can talk to someone about your case. When you have spoken with someone it is always sensible to follow your query up with an email to establish an audit trail.
If you are unsure who to speak to or believe the answers you have been given are not sufficient please speak to your local councillor.
Step 3: Get organised
It is so much easier for us to take up your case if you have good information on it. So please remember to keep a record of who you spoke to and when. It is also useful to keep a copy of all correspondence and the relevant case numbers if you have been given them. We may ask you for copies of these when we take up your case.