Sunday, June 04, 2006

Questions and Answers from Transportation and Street Services – 4th June 2006

As new Scrutiny Chair for Transportation and Street Services I am holding weekly meetings with Neil Dancer, Chief Highway Engineer, and Ian Coghill, Assistant Director of Fleet and Waste Management. The meetings are organized around answering the questions set out at the bottom of this e-mail.

The two departments are presently pulling together information to answer these questions. However I am satisfied that one of the questions has now been answered.

The question is:
What are we doing to monitor the performance of the Birmingham Call Centre? I get regular complaints from residents saying that they keep telephoning the call centre about non-delivery of bin bags and still don’t get them

The Birmingham Call Centre is located in the Waterlinks building in Nechells. All telephone calls are recorded, so if there is any subsequent complaint about a call-centre operator then these can be traced. Calls are regularly monitored to check that the operator is keeping to the prepared scripts.

The private company that operates the call centre provides regular statistics to the Council on its operation.

All enquires are typed into a database system, so that the response of the council departments contacted can also be traced.

Using the database system, I was able to trace the telephone calls of one of my local residents who had complained to me that they had contacted the Call Centre five times in October and November 2005 complaining about no bin bags. Each time the call centre operator promised a roll of bin bags the next day, but none arrived. In the end the resident gave up and complained to me.

By using the database system, we were able to find the reason the resident did not get their bin bags was as follows:
1) the call centre operator was quoting correctly from a script that the bin bags would be delivered the next day. The problem was the depot had a policy to do no such thing.
2) The depot was operating on a policy inherited from the previous Labour administration, which meant the resident was wasting their time complaining about no bin bags.

The policy that the depot was operating to since the previous Labour administration was as follows:
a) Residents would only receive a replacement roll of bin bags if they complained within two weeks of when the bins bags were supposed to be delivered- how the resident was supposed to know when the bins bags were delivered is unknown.
b) If it was decided that the resident may have a legitimate complaint, or complained through a Councillor, then an inspector would be sent to the address on bin collection day to see if the resident was telling the truth. If it is was found that the resident was not using Council bin bags, another council employee would be sent out with a roll of replacement bin bags.

Since the start of April 2006, the whole way bin bags are supplied has been revamped to stop the ridiculous situation above happening again. The following has changed.
i) all bin bags are now supplied from one depot, so as to prevent different depots having completely different policies and methods of delivering bin bags
j) if any resident complains about no bin bags, they are supplied the next day. Questions will asked if the requests are excessive.
k) All rolls of bins are supplied using a private contractor and they have to place the bin bags next to the front door AND put a leaflet is put through the letterbox to inform the resident that bin bags have been delivered.
l) The call centre is tasked with cold calling 100 residents check they received their bin bags that week. This is to double check the effectiveness of the private company. At the moment they have a 95% accuracy rate on delivering bin bags.

The remaining questions I awaiting answers for are as follows:

Street Services
What is the timetable for the roll out of doorstep recycling in south Birmingham?

Do we actually collect statistics on refuse on a Ward-by-Ward basis? Could we start doing that?

Could we have a scheme where graffiti is removed off brickwork without the need for prior permission from the owner? This is a particular nuisance with empty shops or abandoned houses where the Council insists the non-existent owner must sign a form to allow the graffiti to be removed.

What is happening with reducing the cost of installing dropped kerbs to allow parking in front gardens?

What is happening with providing funds to allow one residents parking scheme per Ward per Year? At the moment it is only one residents parking scheme per District per year.

Why can’t Councillors be provided with a Ward map showing where road accidents have happened over the last 5 years? This would allow Councillors to prioritize traffic calming measures, if any.

What are we doing to make it easier to install mobile CCTV cameras on lampposts? At the moment the Highways Department insist that any lamp post that is to have a rapid response mobile CCTV has to be first individually tested to ensure the lamp post will not topple over. They then charge an exorbitant rate to put the camera on and off the lamppost.

What are we doing to make it easier and quicker to change Traffic Regulation Orders?

When is the Highways Department going to start removing Advertising A-boards that clutter our High Streets? Other Councils do this, but Birmingham Highways Department refuses to do so.


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