18th October 2011: Email to Sue Bywater

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Dear Sue

Thank you for your email.

If you look at the history of my complaint, in the first instance I wrote to the members of WCBC executive board and the leaders of the various political groupings in the council in late August 2011 raising my concerns about AVOW in relation to the One Wrexham Charter of Belonging. None responded to me on this point and I am still waiting for an answer to my question about whether this concern was passed on to the relevant department by any councillor.

On the version of the One Wrexham Charter that I downloaded in August, the person to contact with a complaint was “Equality Manager Celia Gibson”. However, my emails to Celia, sent on 29 September, were returned undelivered.

Having looked again on the WCBC website I sent everything again, on the same day to onewrexham@wrexham.gov.uk. I received no acknowledgement or response to this message.

On 3 October 2011, I wrote to my local councillor Simon Meyers and mentioned this matter in the email:

“I have written to several councillors (all the leaders of the main political groupings and all the executive board members, questioning whether AVOW should continue to be accepted as a signatory of (and recruiter for) the One Wrexham Charter when it clearly does not uphold the core values enshrined in that Charter. I have not had a single response on this point. I then wrote on 29 September to the council officers responsible for the Charter asking them to investigate my complaint about AVOW. I have yet to receive an acknowledgement to this email, which I will forward separately.”

Simon Meyers neither acknowledged nor responded to my message.

I phoned the One Wrexham office number given on the WCBC website to find out whether my messages had been received, I was told that the person responsible was not available. I left my name and number but they didn’t call me back or reply to my original emails.

On 10 October, I wrote again to the One Wrexham email address asking for an acknowledgement for my complaint.

I then received a response from Lee Robinson, who tried to fob me off by telling me to address my complaint directly to AVOW even though the One Wrexham documentation makes it clear that it is perfectly in order to address complaints directly to the council. In the circumstances (Lee Robinson had been in possession of the full tribunal judgment written reasons in my case since the end of August), this was at best extremely insensitive and at worst deliberately obstructive.

I replied to Lee Robinson and received a response from you, acknowledging receipt of my email and my request and saying that you would come back to me with a more formal response.

You then wrote again on 14 October, giving the impression that you were taking on the complaint, stating that you were continuing to liaise with AVOW and that an independent investigation had been commissioned. I replied on the same day to explain that the investigation was internal not independent and suggesting that it would not inspire confidence if the council kept deferring any action pending the outcome of various investigations.

Now you’ve written again to say that the complaint cannot be investigated by the council and it is outside the remit of the corporate complaints department.

You will note that I had not passed this complaint to the corporate complaints department or made my request directly to you. I presume that it was Lee Robinson who identified your department and passed on the complaint, so I am not best pleased now to have you writing to tell me that your department can’t do anything about a complaint which I didn’t address to you in the first place and that you are passing it to the Equalities Officer Celia Hart, which is – I believe – where I started with my abortive email to Celia Gibson. If Celia Gibson and Celia Hart are the one and same, then it seems unfortunate that Celia Gibson’s emails are not simply forwarded to the new email address. Also, why is Celia Hart not dealing with emails to the one wrexham charter email address?

The handling (or lack of it) of this complaint by WCBC is starting to merit a complaint in itself, which I presume would be within your remit to investigate.

I hope that Celia Hart, to whom I am sending a copy of this email, will now do what I was asking the council to do in the first instance in relation to AVOW’s status under the One Wrexham Charter of Belonging.

I followed this message up with a further, short email to Sue Bywater by way of clarification:

Just to clarify one point in my previous email (below) in which I wrote:

“I replied to Lee Robinson and received a response from you, acknowledging receipt of my email and my request and saying that you would come back to me with a more formal response.”

Having checked back over my emails, what actually happened is that Lee Robinson, having told me to take my concerns to AVOW, said that if I needed to contact the council, I should contact you and included your contact details in the email. I sent a copy of my response to Lee dated 10 October to you and you subsequently responded as detailed below.

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