News : Complaints to City Council Rise to Highest Level in Four Years
Stoke-on-Trent City, UK, Dec 18, 2015 -- Complaints to a council have increased by nearly 20 per cent over the last two years.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council received 2,382 corporate complaints in 2014/15 – up from the 1,989 received in 2012/13 and the highest level in four years.
Missed bin collections were among the most common issues for residents, with more than one in five complaints relating to domestic waste or recycling.
Other services which attracted a high number of complaints included housing repairs and council tax.
According to the council's annual customer feedback report, the authority is currently collecting 99.78 per cent of bins.
The report states: "The strike action day led to a high number of complaints regarding missed collections impacting on the overall percentage of complaints.
"The council has taken delivery of new vehicles during this year which has reduced the number of breakdowns leading to missed collections.
"In-cab technology has been procured... which will have an immediate effect on the actual number of bins that have not been emptied. Evidence will be available in real time regarding on street collections at the call centre."
But Phil Mellanby, who has made several complaints about his bin collections this year, believes the council still needs to improve its basic service.
He had to wait 14 weeks for his bins to be emptied after moving into a former pub in London Road, Stoke.
The 42-year-old said: "I've just had to make another complaint about the collections. I've just been away from home, and when I came back I found my boxes all over the pavement because the binmen had just flung them back. The lids were damaged so I had to ask for replacements.
"I don't think new technology will do anything, apart from making our council tax go up. They just need to do their job properly."
Officers upheld or partially upheld 911 corporate complaints in 2014/15, representing 39 per cent of the total.
The council received 190 statutory complaints relating to adult social care, an increase of 11 on the previous year, with two-thirds of these upheld or partially upheld. Nearly half the complaints related to the quality of service provided.
The number of complaints about the council's vulnerable children and corporate parenting division fell from 164 to 153.
Five complaints which were taken to the Local Government Ombudsman resulted in local settlements, down from 14 in the previous year. In one case the council was asked to pay £650 towards 'Mr C', after bailiffs were wrongly sent to recover council tax he did not owe.
Commenting on the report, City Council deputy leader Abi Brown said: "A number of the complaints in 2014/15 were around service areas such as fly-tipping, and we are hopeful that the investment we have made in these areas will enable teams such as the Environmental Crime Unit to better tackle these issues before they become complaints. This is both through proactive work in targeting hot spots, but also by seeking to prosecute those who think it is ok to fly-tip their rubbish.
"We take all complaints seriously and, where possible, look at how we can improve processes and procedures to ensure they don't happen again. Recent inspections by Ofsted have highlighted this good practice, and we believe that this is leading to an increasing number of issues being resolved informally before the need for residents to use the complaint procedures."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Stoke-on-Trent City Council:
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is the local authority of Stoke-on-Trent. It is a unitary authority, with the powers and functions of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. The Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent for the 2014/15 municipal year is Majid Khan.
Published: Monday, December 21, 2015