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News : Calls for Cash Injection at Stockport Council Contact Centre
Stockport, England, Sept 11, 2014 -- Councillors in Stockport are calling on the town hall executive to pump £200,000 into the borough’s ailing contact centre and employ more staff - with one in three callers not able to get through.
Conservative councillors say there has been an ‘all-time low’ in the answer rate in the past year, with 30 per cent of residents trying to contact the council not having their call answered.
The Tory group says the number of complaints about the service has increased significantly after budgets were slashed. A backlog of e-mails has also built up, resulting in delays in replies to residents’ enquiries, according to the group.
The Tories are set to table a motion at Stockport’s full council meeting tonight, calling for extra staff and cash for the contact centre.
They want the ruling Lib Dem group to use £200,000 from a reserve set up for projects needing extra resources. They also want four new staff. The changes would not cost taxpayers any more money.
The Conservative group says that the trend towards prioritising digital communications excludes some older people and those without computers.
Council stats show that 485,000 phone calls were received by the council from residents in 2013/14, compared to just 41,860 e-mails.
Coun Alanna Vine, who will propose the motion, said: "I am deeply concerned about the contact centre’s ability to cope with the volume of resident’s calls and believe that the Lib Dems have failed to recognise the importance of local people being able to contact their council easily.
"Long queue and response times are causing distress and inconvenience to residents. It needs fixing."
Cuts to the contact centre, now based at Fred Perry House next to Stockport Town Hall, were agreed in February last year. Council bosses agreed savings of £500,000, including £310,000 through job cuts - around 14 full-time equivalent redundancies.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, September 11, 2014