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Council complaints down but some customer service still disappoints

Angus House council HQ.
Angus House council HQ.

The number of complaints against Angus Council has fallen but “disappointment” remains over the public’s interaction with some officers.

The council’s scrutiny and audit committee heard there has been a drop in the local authority’s complaints as a percentage of the sector — down from 2.1% in 2014-15 to 1.2% in the last financial year.

The population of Angus is 2.2% of the Scottish total.

But the Forfar meeting heard a number of unresolved complaints, and those later upheld by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, may have emerged when members of the public circumvent the council’s front-line Access call centre.

The bulk of complaints related to Housing, Social Work and Planning.

Councillor Bob Myles said the Access service has been commended for quality of customer service.

He added: “I’m disappointed to see in a number of complaints, a lack of courtesy from members of staff, because as we’ve already heard the Access office has been commended over how it handles these things.

“I’m disappointed all our staff do not have the same high standards.

“It may be under difficult circumstances — some members of the public can be more difficult than others and it’s hard to keep the cool — but we must apply courtesy at all times.”

Committee convener Brian Boyd said the number of upheld complaints was lower than for other councils.

He added: “A member of staff might have their number on letters and it’s not always the access line.

“If a letter is going out with a direct line to that person and they don’t seem to get the same service, maybe that’s something the management need to look at.”

Communities strategic director Alan McKeown said: “If you look at the number if customer transactions over a year you’re into 200,000, so whilst every complaint that’s been partially upheld is disappointing… we do take every complaint very seriously.”

During 2014-15 a total of 40 complaints were determined by the SPSO, with 32 complaints found to be either improperly made, premature or outwith jurisdiction; two were not upheld, one was partially upheld and five were upheld.

During 2015-16 a total of 24 complaints were determined, with 20 of these complaints were found to be either improperly made, premature, or outwith the jurisdiction of the SPSO; one was not upheld, none were partially upheld and three upheld.

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