Accessing Council Services:
- You can access advice, or support with using our online services, by phoning 01268 882200 (8.45am to 5.15pm Mon to Thurs, and to 4.45pm on Fri)
- The Kiln Road office will re-open for pre-booked appointments only (9.00am to 4.00pm), these can be arranged on a case by case basis by phoning 01268 882200.
- You can find information and advice on COVID-19 and our 24/7 online services on our Coronavirus information page .
Our Way of Working
This statement sets out the Council’s new way of working.
It reflects a modernisation of Work Location, Delivering Services and Council Meetings, accelerated by the pandemic and shaped by the changes forced upon us.
1. Work Location
A key learning point from the lockdown is that work is something that you do rather than somewhere you go. In other words, for many Council jobs, the work can be done from practically anywhere and does not have to be delivered from one building that everyone travels to every day.
Following the first lockdown the Council rapidly put in place arrangements for most staff to be able work from home. As these experiences have been reflected on, it is clear that the Council cannot move permanently to a position where there is no staff present at the main offices.
However, there are opportunities to work differently and the Council has undertaken a review of all relevant roles to determine whether the post can be:
- Office based (approx. 20% of desk-based roles)
- Office and Home based (approx. 45% of desk-based roles)
- Home-based (approx. 35% of desk-based roles)
Staff who provide “location-based” services e.g. refuse and recycling collection, leisure, parks and open spaces, inspection/compliance work, reception etc will continue to do so at the location most suited to the work.
2. Delivering Services
The Council delivers most of its services across the following four “channels”: In-person; Telephone; Online; and Location-based.
This Policy Statement sets out how we will deliver our services going into the future. Our new approach to providing services across these different channels is as follows:
- First Contact will continue as the main contact channel - dealing with 95% of queries at the first point of contact
- An increase in the number of services available online - for example, the Open Portal to get secure online access to Council Tax, Benefits and Business Rates accounts as well as an online ordering for garden waste bags, food caddies and yellow recycling boxes
- In-person by appointment only - there has been positive feedback from the appointment-only approach with customers knowing when they will be seen and officers better able to manage workloads
- Location-based service delivery broadly unchanged - there are some services that can only be delivered at the place where the service is required, for example, housing repairs, refuse and recycling collection, leisure, parks and open spaces
The Council will maintain a presence at our Reception to greet visitors, provide some services and support urgent “walk-in” customers whose circumstances mean that they are unable to book an appointment.
3. Council Meetings
New technology has allowed Council business to be transacted at remote meetings. These meetings have been conducted professionally and efficiently.
The Council will continue to take advantage of technology to make meetings fully accessible to both councillors and members of the public and all future meetings will comply with relevant legislation.
Council meetings will take place as follows:
- Attendance in person for Annual Council and Ordinary Council - in the Council Chamber
- Online solution for some Council meetings - i.e Cabinet; Development Management; Licensing; (All) Policy and Scrutiny Committees; Review
All meetings will be properly summonsed to take place at a designated time and place.
The Council will continue to live stream meetings and will keep recordings of these meetings should anyone wish to view the meeting after it has taken place.
Our Customer Promise
In line with this new way of working, the Council has updated its Customer Promise:
We will make it clear how you can contact us or access our services
- By providing a variety of ways for you to contact us, for example:
- Digital (website, email etc) where possible and appropriate, because it is often quicker, more convenient for you and cost-effective
- Telephone through our First Contact team who aim to resolve your query without having to transfer you to another department
- Face-to-face appointment where necessary to resolve your query
- Where people have a disability or impairment, we will work with you to find the best ways to communicate
- Up to date information online about our services including ways to access these services
We will be clear and treat you with respect
- Increasingly provide digital services but still aim to deliver a personal service, treating you with politeness, respect and understanding
- Be clear and easy to understand in all our communication with you
- Keep your personal data secure and ensure your confidentiality
We will listen and get things done
- Aim to answer your query at the first point of contact or, when this cannot be achieved, we will provide clear information about next steps so you know what to expect
- Take care to fully understand and respond appropriately to your needs
- Keep you informed with up-to-date information and explain what we have done and why
- Make sure our staff have the skills and tools to deliver the service you need
- Work together across the Council to provide a service that minimises your efforts
- Provide clear signposting to partner organisations where we cannot help you directly
You can help us to keep our promise by
- Treating us politely and with respect
- Understanding that aggressive behaviour stops us from being able to help you
- Letting us know if you have any specific needs
- Giving us all the information we need to deal with your enquiry
- Aim to have the Council website available for 24 hours a day all year round
- Continually improve the ability to interact with us digitally and increase the number of services you can access online
- Be proactive in sharing relevant information through our social media channels
- Continue to review and improve the menu of telephone options available to you when you call
- Update voicemails and telephone messages to ensure they remain accurate and customise these to inform you of any matters of importance in the Borough relevant to your query
- Ensure all service-specific emails are set up with a relevant automatic reply giving a clear indication of what will happen next
- Make sure our buildings are fully accessible for those occasions when we need to make a face-to-face appointment with you
- Aim to greet you on arrival when you visit the Council Offices
If things go wrong
We always strive to provide you with excellent customer care but there may be times when you are dissatisfied, or we get something wrong.
Where this is the case, let us know and we will try to put it right. If you are still dissatisfied, then we have a formal complaints process which you can learn more about: here