We, the undersigned, petition the council to investigate urgently how pe
Sponsor: Mr Jon Harvey
Current signature count: 496
(Response from Councillor Neil Blake, Leader of the Council, to Mr Jon Harvey (12 February 2014))
Cabinet met last night to re-consider it earlier decision in the light of the Scrutiny Committee's request. In accordance with the Council's scheme, Cabinet heard a statement made by a member of the public who had registered to speak. Again, in summary, that individual asked Cabinet to maintain face to face contact facilities at both Area Offices. Cabinet also heard from two local Councillors representing Buckingham and Winslow who put forward a similar view. The local Buckingham Member presented the petition to me formally at the meeting and Cabinet colleagues were made aware of the view expressed via the petition.
Having taken into account all the views expressed Cabinet was still of the view that in the light of the evidence gathered about customer usage, and changes in the way in which the majority of our customers now make contact with the Council, Cabinet's original decision was the only practical and sensible way forward. It was emphasised that the earlier decision took account of the need for flexibility in ensuring that the proposed changes were properly communicated to customers and that sufficient support was provided to those who wished to use alternative methods of contacting the Council. It was stresses that the objective was to make the transition as seamless as possible and to ensure that the needs of the more vulnerable members of the local community would continue to be fully met. The proposals will be implemented through a step change process over a period likely to be in the region of four months, to give the maximum assistance to customers in moving to different ways of contacting the Council. The original decision was therefore affirmed.
You may be interested to know that our officers are working very closely with the Buckingham CAB, which since the matter was first reported to Cabinet, has concluded that the Council's proposals are the most logical way forward. Meetings have taken place with CAB advisors and they have agreed to host our self service help points at both Winslow and Buckingham, including providing customers with support in their use. The CAB has also agreed to undertake home visits for our customers and we will provide their advisors with training and access to our IT systems. The CAB will potentially provide venues for surgeries. They have offered to have vulnerable customers visit their offices and telephone our staff with the customer present in order to resolve the particular enquiry. I hope that this demonstrates the Council's commitment to ensuring all the needs of its customers are met.
I know that the Cabinet's decision is likely to be a disappointment to you, given the sentiments expressed via the petition, but I would hope that you will understand the rationale behind Cabinet's decision in what is a continually challenging financial climate and will accept my undertaking to ensure that customers continue to be provided with a service geared specifically to their particular needs and which delivers a first time resolution of their queries.