Council 'couldn't run a tap' gibe hurts our staff
EVERY day Cornwall Council takes decisions that affect all our lives and, quite rightly, our residents demand the best possible services. It is always difficult to explain the whole picture to everyone and many of us have a natural inclination to blame and criticise. It is this negativity that the council wants to address.
The length of time some people have been waiting when phoning our contact centre has been in the news recently. I recently had to phone the tax office the other day. While they proved to be very helpful, it was 25 minutes 28 seconds before I spoke to a human being. This kind of wait is not usual but it is not uncommon either. Why does it seem to be more acceptable to wait to speak to the bank or to some agencies but not Cornwall Council? The statistics speak for themselves, with 75 per cent of our calls in July answered within 60 seconds and response times improving. Unfortunately, all we hear about is the one in a hundred who had a bad experience and this swamps the good experience that I know many people have. The lengthy waits are not acceptable but they are not the norm.
We do aim to be as open as possible in all things but we still receive an average of 1,600 Freedom of Information requests each year. Often these are for information which is already public but not in the required format of the applicant. Processing these requests costs approximately £320,000 and takes a considerable amount of officer time. It would be good to be in a position where such requests are unnecessary or all are sought for positive reasons.
Sadly, it seems that all too often residents see the worst in our officers who are really working very hard. As a result staff can start to feel that they can do little that is right. It would be good to have a bit more balance. I was recently told of a tweet picked up by a colleague. Referring to the council it said: 'that lot up there couldn't run a tap'. How to deal with that? Well, we can only totally solve it when we make sure all taps are running smoothly. We are working on it.