Fife Council needs to tackle lack of feedback

Clear message: If street lights are repaired, that's fine, but if not, councillors say the public should be kept better informed of progress.
Clear message: If street lights are repaired, that's fine, but if not, councillors say the public should be kept better informed of progress.
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But number of complaints to the Council is falling

Failure to provide members of the public with feedback on issues they raise is damaging Fife Council’s image and credibility.

And staff are now being told they have to keep people up to date with what’s happening – or what’s not happening – about matters they’ve brought to the Council’s attention.

The lack of feedback was raised by Councillor Dave Dempsey, Conservative group leader, who highlighted a customer survey revealing only 43 per cent was satisfied with the way they were kept up to date with progress.

The same survey highlighted staff were courteous, polite and friendly in dealing with the public, and Cllr Dempsey said staff should be congratulated for this, but he expressed dismay at the lack of feedback concerning progress of issues.

He added: “It appears the contact centre is good at dealing with the public, but the rest of the Council is not.

“I’d like the outcome of this to be that councillors, officers, all staff, consider how does an issue look to them and is there something they could do to make life better.”

Councillor Peter Grant, SNP group leader, agreed this was an area where improvemt was needed.

He said: “If someone reports the street light outside their house is not working and it gets fixed, we don’t need to tell them as they can see for themselves. But if it doesn’t get fixed, we need to go back to them to tell them why and explain what’s happening.

“When something doesn’t happen or an issue doesn’t get resolved, the member of the public must get a phone call or email to let them know what’s happening before they have to get back to us.”

The Council’s chief executive has been tasked with ensuring staff are fully aware of the need provide adequate feedback to the public.

The number of complaints received by Fife Council is falling.

In the first half of 2013/14, the Council received 1677 complaints, comapred to 2750 complaints during the same period the previous year. In 2012/13, there were 6148 complaints. That’s just 0.08 per cent of the 7.55 million customer contacts made over the year by phone, online and face to face.

The majority of complaints were dealt with within five working days.