By Bill Heaney
Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone, but don’t put the kettle on for receiving an answer.
And certainly not a quick answer from a friendly voice at the other end of the line.
That’s if you are calling West Dunbartonshire Council, who will be dealing this Thursday with a motion from Councillor Martin Rooney about abandoned telephone calls.
Cllr Rooney says there has been “significant concern from residents about abandoned calls to the Council helpdesk” – in layman’s language that is a public outcry – about people being left to hang on forever and day when they call the Council.
They don’t just have time to make a cup of tea while they are waiting.
There’s often time to cook a four course meal and then some before you get an answer.
Labour councillor Martin Rooney; Chief Exec Joyce White and SNP council leader Jonathan McColl.
Cllr Rooney says that although the Council is not able to measure or record the average time to answer a telephone call, it does have information on abandoned calls.
In 2020 a total of 19,590 calls were abandoned which represented 17% of the total calls abandoned.
That is around one in five persons left to face the monotonous music we all know too well when we’re waiting for someone to answer the phone.
As at August 2021, 7,411 calls have been abandoned which represents 15% of the total calls.
Unlike previous years, during the Covid pandemic local residents who didn’t complete their call, could attend council offices in person.
But given the fact that the offices are closed – and add to that the fact that today (Monday) is the September holiday weekend, the public have no access to anyone when no one answers the phone.
Cllr Rooney suggests the Council calls for the Chief Executive, Joyce White, to bring forward a report on the how the council can improve its customer helpdesk function for the public.
He says: “The report should consider how we could measure, record and improve the average time to answer a call.
“In addition, it should consider what other options may be available to ensure that the number of abandoned calls can be reduced in future years.”
Cllr Rooney’s motion is bland. It is especially bland in light of the fact that the Council will also be introducing its annual report on the same day.
This is a piece of fiction so good that it should be in the running for the Booker Prize.
SNP leader Jonathan McColl and his tawdry team maintains how we in West Dunbartonshire receive open, accountable and accessible local government, which we don’t.
He tells us in his intro to the council’s annual report: “This last year we have faced many challenges that have impacted on how we live and how we work: I am immensely proud of how we, as a Council have responded to ensure we continued to deliver vital services to our residents.”
It claims that 89 per cent of West Dunbartonshire citizens are satisfied with council services over all and that 75 per cent are satisfed with the way the Council communicates [you can’t communicate with someone if you don’t answer the phone to them, as above, or ban them from asking you questions).
Sitting at home during the pandemic with the laptops and mobile telephones that citizens pay good money for throughtheir council tax for, they have come to the conclusion that they enjoy “meaningful engagement
with active, empowered and informed citizens who feel safe and engaged” and who are fully consulted and able to make full use of the Community Empowerment Act.
What complete and utter bilge that is. As for the annual report, they will doubtless approve it on Thursday and decide to distribute it through local libraries, which are of course closed right now.
Let’s hope they don’t distribute it through the post anmd squander even more of our hard earned council tax money by doing that.
Oh, and they mentioned “providing transparency of decision-making” while making little or no provision for media coverage.
The SNP should think black, burning shame of themselves for producing this worthless piece of tartan propaganda.
Has anyone spotted a banana boat tied up at the Quay?