Skip navigation Home Page News and Events Help Complaints Legal Information Contact Us Top of Page

Agenda item

Customer Feedback Report Quarter 1, 2018/19


The Board considered a report of the Corporate Director of Resources which presented for information the Members Customer Feedback: Complaints, Compliments and Suggestions report for quarter 1, 2018/19 (for copy see file of Minutes).


The Chairman referred to the number of complaints with regards to refuse and recycling collections and the Interim Customer Relations Manager confirmed that operatives had changed routes and were unfamiliar with assisted collections for vulnerable residents, and a number had been missed.  The Chairman highlighted that it was not unusual for the service to receive the highest number of complaints and Councillor Jopling suggested that when considering the number of bin collections over the quarterly period, this was an extremely low percentage. 


The Interim Customer Relations Manager noted the delayed bin collections in March and the Christmas period and it had been established that there had been an error with the online system which gave details for householder’s next bin collection.  Online information had provided incorrect collection dates. The responsibility of updating the website lay with alternative staff covering bank holiday periods and the service were considering ways to prevent this problem repeating in future.


Councillor Makepeace referred to his own positive experience of contacting Customer Services due to a broken bin, which was replaced within two days.  He was less satisfied that having experienced problems in his street due to high wind on a number of occasions and requesting glass recycling boxes be put inside the larger recycling bins in extreme weather, he had received no response. 


Councillor Makepeace was also was dissatisfied with the Council’s Policy of not crowning trees and referred to it being a matter of time before a serious accident occurred.  Councillor Jopling also referred to a play area in Howden where a tree had been damaged in the bad weather, it was cut back but the canopy had not been cropped and she requested that the Policy was reconsidered, especially when the safety of children was at risk.  Councillor Maddison added that many complaints received were with regards to trees on public land and agreed that the Policy needed addressing.


The Chairman referred to Sheffield Tree Action Group which protested against the felling of trees, suggesting that there was an emerging theme but not necessarily always reduce or remove trees.  The Interim Customer Services Manager confirmed that she would provide an update for Members at the next meeting.


Councillor Boyes referred to the information regarding Universal Credit and that 50% of those needing digital assistance did not have access to the internet yet only 30% did not own a device.  Some of those who did own a device, owned smartphones.  The Interim Customer Relations Manager confirmed that a lot of work was being done via Digital Durham and data confirmed that people who did have smartphones may not have data usage due to financial constraints.  She referred to the free public wifi provision at various Council locations and that some people were unaware.  Councillor Boyes agreed that some people may be unaware of where to access assistance and the Chairman reiterated the importance of providing customers with access to the internet, especially since Universal Credit could only be applied for online.  He and another local member had ensured that part of their neighbourhood budget had been spent on community facilities, highlighting that the Council still had work to do to ensure access to services.


The Interim Customer Relations Manager confirmed that there was still a lot of work to do with regards to Universal Credit support, however she reminded the Committee that this was to be transferred to the Citizens Advice Bureau.


Councillor Patterson referred to the statistics in the report with regards to online transactions and suggested that age was a significant factor when considering the reason that people did not use this type of facility.  In her own experience of using the system, she had not found it user friendly, the page timed out, and there was no facility to track issues reported or receive feedback at various stages. 


Councillor Patterson referred to the complaint upheld by the Ombudsmen with regards to a care agency and had concerns that the Council had to procure agencies given the need for care beds.


In response to a question from Councillor Patterson, the Interim Customer Relations Manager confirmed that since the Customer Services Team had merged into one building in Crook staff were happy with the new, modern way of working – staff had more flexible working conditions excellent facilities.




That the content of the report be noted.

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714