Gwynedd, England, Feb 14, 2017 -- More than one in four calls to Gwynedd Council are going unanswered because its departments are being deluged with complaints.
Frustrated residents are giving up after failing to get through to officers within a reasonable amount of time, a report has said.
The biggest areas of complaint have been identified as grass cutting, the closure of public toilets and changes in the arrangements for collecting garden waste.
In total 144,862 calls were abandoned out of more than 500,000 made directly to council workers last year. The problem is particularly acute at peak times on Mondays, Tuesdays and Friday afternoons, the Corporate Scrutiny Committee will be told.
The local authority has admitted that the findings are unacceptable and that it planned to draft in new call centre staff to resolve the issue.
Fewer than half of the calls were answered within 15 seconds last year.
A spokesman for the council said it had been inundated with people ringing them to complain.
"We have experienced unprecedented demand over the past few months with the number of calls; and as the report notes, one of the biggest problems facing the service is lack of staff in the call centre, this was something the council hopes to fix by bringing in new employees."
The spokesperson added: "As is clear from the report, we have identified a number of things that contribute to these problems and have taken steps to address them, working together with the extremely hard working members of staff at the contact centre.
"We are also recruiting more staff to deal with these problems in the short-term because some of those solutions, like the greater emphasis on self-service, could take a little time to bear fruit.
"The Council is not happy with the performance as it is."
But UKIP’s Assembly Member for North Wales, Michelle Brown AM blasted the council’s record.
She said: "It beggars belief that the council are seeking to blame the public for their poor performance, especially when the calls have been generated by local people unhappy with the council’s poor performance in other areas.
"Only in the world of a dysfunctional local authority does it seem acceptable to say, ‘if people stopped calling to tell us how badly we’re doing, we would be able to answer their calls more quickly.’
"It’s no surprise to me that people are calling to complain when they are paying more in council tax but getting less for it.
"Nowhere in their plans for dealing with the problem do they mention actually addressing the problems the local people are complaining about.
"It seems logical that if the council want fewer people calling to complain, they should improve their performance as a local authority and give people less reason to complain in the first place.
"The council have clearly forgotten that they work for the local residents, not the other way round."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Date Posted: Friday, February 17, 2017
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