Services provided by Croydon Council continue to be axed. From next week, our “Proud to Swerve” council will make it even more difficult for Council Tax-payers to register a complaint about shortcomings in borough services, as the staffing of the phone bank at Taberner House will be reduced by 11 hours each week.
Inside Croydon broke the news three months ago of a 35 per cent cut in the number of people working in the “customer services” department (a term used by Croydon without a hint of irony) at Taberner House. With increasing demand for help from the council, the hard-pressed front-line council workers are about to become even more stretched during their time on duty.
In the latest example of Croydon’s Uncaring Council, the £248,000 per year chief executive Jon Rouse has approved a scheme whereby instead of making a simple phone call, borough residents are encouraged to use the council’s ill-designed website or send in emails – something which automatically excludes many older residents, the poor or those without ready access to computers or internet access.
As we stated in September, it is as if “these latest cut-backs at Croydon Council have been introduced deliberately to disadvantage the disadvantaged”.
From next Monday, residents will be only be able to telephone the council between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday, instead of the previous customer service working hours of 8am to 7pm on Mondays, and 8am to 6pm from Tuesday to Friday.
Sara “Book Token” Bashford, the senior Tory councillor who made a pig’s ear of the borough’s arts, sport and library provision, was shunted to take charge of “customer services” earlier this year. In all seriousness, with 35 fewer staff answering calls and with them available for 11 hours less each week, Bashford is now claiming that this will improve call answering.
“Moving most of them into a single 9am to 5pm shift,” Bashford said of the call centre staff, “will not only speed up call-answering times by up to one minute per call – it will also save us around £80,000 per year.” A whole £80,000 – barely twice what is spent each year on paying councillor “allowances” to Sara Bashford.
But then, Bashford is the councillor who had the brainwave that handing out book tokens to all residents would be cheaper than providing a proper public library service.
If you are a Croydon resident and encounter longer than usual waiting times when phoning the council, do please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the details.
And if you want a more prompt answer to your call to the council, we recommend that you try 020 8663 8741 and ask to speak to “Sara” – because as well as collecting her “allowances” as a Selsdon councillor, Bashford also has a “day job” working in the office of a local MP (salary: another estimated £25,000 of public dosh).
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