Fife, Scotland, Aug 17, 2021 -- Fife Council's chief has been urged to take action to address the local authority's "failure" to answer their phones to members of the public.
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP has written to Steve Grimmond, Fife Council's Chief Executive, asking him to rectify the "sorry situation" which has seen people wait for the phone to be answered for over an hour.
"The numbers of people contacting my office and the numbers complaining on media platforms about how difficult it is to make contact with Fife Council is quite extraordinary and I cannot understand why you as the Chief Officer in Fife are not addressing this problem," he wrote.
"This failure of service cannot be allowed to continue and I am amazed that local councillors are not demanding an end to this appalling poor level of service to the public of Fife and it is incredible that those elected leaders in Fife are allowing this sorry situation and failure to continue.
"This current level of failure to answer the phones is not acceptable and cannot be allowed to continue."
Earlier this month, the Press reported on the frustration of Dunfermline pensioner Jennie Reid, 83, who had tried in vain to get through to the council about issues regarding refuse collection.
Elderly couple Mr and Mrs Stewart, who live in Drum Road, also contacted the Press after trying multiple times to get through to the call centre to arrange a toilet repair.
Mr Rowley said being able to contact the council was a "basic" requirement.
"This has been an issue for some time and it was understandable during the worst of the pandemic but it is neither understandable nor acceptable that it continues whilst the rest of our lives open up and people go about their lives as normal as they can," he added.
Fife Council's head of customer and online services, Diarmuid Cotter, apologised for the recent issues with call answering at the council.
"We understand that customers have been frustrated and disappointed, and we’re really sorry that our service has let people down. We are working hard to fix this and would ask people to bear with us while we do," he said.
"We’re recruiting more staff to help ease the pressure on phone lines which have become busier as services come back on stream, and we deal with the backlog that's built up throughout the pandemic.
"When more staff are in place, customers should find it much easier to get in touch, and we expect things to improve over the next week.
"In the meantime, we are fast tracking emergency calls and prioritising urgent contact from vulnerable clients including community alarm responses, health and social care or those who need crisis grants.
"In response to those calls that are not quite so urgent, we’re explaining to customers the reasons for delay and explaining that there are alternative ways to get in touch and access services.
"Our website fife.gov.uk is a convenient way for many people to access services as well as helping reduce the number of calls we need to take. And seven customer service centres are also open for appointments in Dunfermline, Cowdenbeath, Inverkeithing, Glenrothes, Cupar, Methil and Kirkcaldy."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2021
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