Thursday 31 July 2003 2.51pm
I've noticed various gripes about Southwark Council
's performance in this forum. I though it might be useful to list a few of my own here, as telephone calls and 'Ask Austin' rarely seem to elicit a timely response. I hope Nick Stanton
(Council Leader) is still browsing through these posts. Others may wish to add thier own experiences.
Southwark have raised the Council tax, among other reasons, to raise local environmental standards. But:
- for over two months, the refuse men failed to collect our refuse (I live in a 9-apartment block) on the regular collection day. Every week I made telephone calls to - 7525 2183 - the enviromental hotline (inter alia suggesting that perhaps the refuse collectors had lost the key to our secure refuse area). I was given a variety of misleading responses and (repeatedly broken) promises to arrange a special collection with 24 hours. On average, it took two calls per week to have the refuse collected usually after three or four days.
- after two time-consuming months of this nonsense, I finally managed to bypass the call centre and speak to a refuse manager directly. He confirmed that the refuse collectors had indeed lost the keys to our refuse area and requested a new key from me. I shudder to think how long this would have drifted on if I had not bypassed the call centre...
- a similar story. A new splash of graffiti on nearby walls. Four weeks of telephone calls to the hotline, followed by my bypassing the hotline and speaking to a manager. Action then resulted within hours.
- I decided to follow Mr Stanton's advice and sent an email through the 'Ask Austin' site. Although they promise a reply within '2 working days' (see other forum thread on refuse disposal), four days later I have yet to receive a reply.
What bugs me about this is that as a band D tax payer, I am helping to fund the call centre, ask austin, the grafitti removal service, the dog mess removers, the refuse men etc etc and yet they are all pretty dysfunctional. This is hardly the flagship environmental programme which Nick Stanton
claims it to be..It seems that the much-vaunted call centre has almost no impact on the Council's response, and that ask austin is asleep.
If Nick is interested, I have the reference numbers and call handlers for most of these calls. On some of my calls, I was told the system was down and somebody would call me back with a reference number - which they never did!