NEARLY 30 complaints about Southampton City Council were lodged with a local government watchdog last year.

Figures from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) show 29 complaints or enquiries about the council were lodged in the year to March, though the ombudsman was closed to new complaints between March and June 2020.

The highest number of concerns, seven, involved environmental services, public protection and regulation, while five complaints were made about education and children's services.

There were two cases related to adult social care.

In response to the data, deputy chief executive at the council, Mike Harris said: "Watchdog organisations offer an important avenue for customers when they feel that an organisation’s complaints procedure has not provided them with the outcome that they desired.

"We take every complaint that we receive seriously and not only look to resolve them but to take learnings from them and prevent issues from occurring again in the future.

"Whilst we have a robust complaints procedure in place, with phone or online contact options available, we recognise that we don’t always meet the high standards we strive for.

"In cases like this the Ombudsman can take an objective approach to our performance.

"Whilst we believe the level of complaints received compares well to other similar local authorities, and we are pleased to see the number of complaints referred to the Ombudsman halving year on year, there is no room for complacency and we will continuously strive to improve."

According to the LGSCO, the coronavirus pandemic has intensified existing problems, "widened cracks" and contributed to the most difficult time in several years for local authorities nationally.

Despite this, the number of complaints lodged with Southampton City Council was a decrease on the previous year, of which there were 59 complaints.

Different data shows 12 cases deemed to warrant a full investigation by the LGSCO were concluded in 2020 to 2021, with eight resulting in a complaint being upheld against the council.

The reasons for the complaints were not provided.