Calling the council? Try this number if you can’t get through…

Don't bother calling the council before 9am or after 5pm in future

Don’t bother calling the council before 9am or after 5pm

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.

Councillor Sara Bashford: maybe she can answer your complaints about council services?    Councillor Sara Bashford: maybe she can answer your complaints about council services?

Councillor Sara Bashford: maybe she can answer your complaints about council services?

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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com 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).

  • Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
  • Post your comments on this article below. If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Sara Bashford, Selsdon & Ballards and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Calling the council? Try this number if you can’t get through…

  1. How does this fit with the Croydon Conservative councillors’ clear commitment to enforce that the preferred bidder for Croydon libraries maintain the phone contact with all libraries?

    I was advised today that if anyone wished to communicate with their library outside of these new times they should “walk to their local library”. So if ill, infirm or you do not possess the funds to travel, as many indicated in the sham libraries consultation, you do not count. Nice!

    Croydon have no shame and are continually add to the real case for judicial review. Please follow @SaveCroydonLibs on Twitter. Details are also on http://soslibrary.blogspot.co.uk/ and we are on Facebook too.

    John Laing have wrecked library services elsewhere. The campaign fights on for Croydon library services and will expose the truth.

  2. ndavies144 says:

    I’m surprised they haven’t gone for an 0870 number plus automated switchboard which plays music to you for 10 minutes then black holes you once they’ve syphoned off a couple of quid via your phone bill.

    But I suppose that would require imagination. Sometimes we’re fortunate that they possess none of that at all.

  3. One of our growing band of sources from inside Taberner House advises us that Croydon does actually have money-spinning premium 0845 numbers for making payments (such as council rent and housing benefit, as well as business rates and parking fines etc).

    They are listed in various places on the website.

    What the council don’t tell you is that you can also make payment over most of the 0208 726 xxxx numbers (which are much cheaper or even free to call on some tarrifs). Some might suggest that is immoral that some of Croydon’s poorest residents may end up calling the most expensive number.

    If in doubt, Croydon residents should call the main 0208 726 6000 number. The out of hours service should still operate for emergencies on this line.

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