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Bins, potholes and faulty traffic lights feature in council’s new promise

Bins, potholes and faulty traffic lights feature in council’s new promise

🕔09.Mar 2015

Missed refuse collections will be picked up within three days and emergency housing repairs carried out within two hours under a new customer service guarantee by Birmingham city council.

The Birmingham Promise covers a wide range of public services and is being described by the council as delivering on “the things that matter to people”.

Other pledges include:

  • Dangerous potholes will be made safe within an hour, temporary repairs conducted within 24 hours, and full repairs carried out within 28 days
  • Traffic light faults will be repaired within two hours and any street light that is not working will be repaired within one month
  • Dangerous trees will be “attended to” within two hours of being reported
  • Decisions will be made about claims for housing and council tax benefit within ten days
  • Applications for Blue Badge disabled parking permits may take eight weeks to process, but the council will strive to do it sooner.

Work on putting the pledge together has lasted several months amid warnings that the council must avoid making promises it cannot keep. Deputy council leader Ian Ward, who is leading on the Birmingham Promise, has insisted the targets must be realistic and deliverable.

Most of the pledges are based on services that over the years have been the subject of never-ending complaints from residents to councillors, in particular housing repairs, refuse collection and the standard of the highways.

To ensure the promise is as valuable as possible, it will be made subject to external assessment to ensure it is clear and easy to understand. And to guarantee its ongoing relevance, consultation will be carried out with the public on an annual basis to obtain feedback on its worth. Cllr Ward said:

We deliver a wide range of services to citizens in Birmingham and improving their experience when accessing them is important.

It’s not just about how quickly we answer a phone or how we talk to our customers. It is about how soon we actually resolve an enquiry or request.

Advances in technology and the unprecedented central government budget cuts for the council mean the way we deliver services may change, but our commitment to perform as well as possible and meet a clear set of service delivery standards will drive what we do in future.”

A council spokesperson said:

Improving customer service is very important for Birmingham city council. We also recognise that good customer service is not just about how quickly we answer the phone or how politely we talk to our customers.

That should happen as a matter of course. The most important factor in good customer service is how quickly we actually resolve your enquiries and requests.

The Birmingham Promise takes some of the most frequently requested council services and tells you what standards you can expect. We will monitor our performance against these standards and share the results with you quarterly. We will review the Birmingham Promise annually.

The set of pledges is linked to the Future Council Plan drawn up following the Kerslake Review which sets out a culture change in the way the council goes about its business.

The Birmingham Promise commits the council to always being courteous and polite and treating people fairly as well as being open and honest and explaining decisions.

The council says it will in future “respond to the diverse needs of our customers and adapt our approach accordingly, treating you as an individual”.

Correspondence and information from the council will be made easy to understand, officials will apologise if they get things wrong and do their best to put matters right.

The council says it expects customers to:

  • Treat all Council staff with respect and courtesy.
  • Provide full information when reporting an issue or submitting an application.
  • Use the council website or the contact centre when reporting an issue.
  • Leave waste out to be collected on the right day and at the right time.

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