Don’t leave us hanging on the telephone, RDC

Rother District Council has vowed to improve the way it deals with phone calls from members of the public.

Following a barrage of criticism over the difficulty in getting through to the local authority via the phone, RDC has introduced new performance targets.

Rother says that it handles ‘large volumes’ of calls and says it believes that a target of 85 percent was ‘realistic to measure the council’s response to efficiently answer and resolve calls on first contact’.

The council’s problem with answering calls was thrown into sharp focus last summer, when hundreds of angry residents claimed they were unable to get through to speak to anyone about problems following the new waste collection scheme.

And back in November, Rye Harbour resident Harry Osborne told the Observer that he had spent three days trying to get through to Rother to report a rat infestation.

A Rother District Council spokesman said: “Cabinet approved the recommendation that a target be set of dealing with 85 per cent of calls from the public in the first call.

“Cabinet also noted the work that we’re doing to investigate ways to give callers who are waiting on the phone more information, such as a message telling them where they are in the queue.

“We saw a very large increase in call volumes last year, particularly as a result of a major change in service in the introduction of the new waste contract, and this inevitably had an effect on people who were trying to get through.

“The volume of calls has levelled out again recently, and we are working hard to improve, through measures such as improving our online service and encouraging more people to contact us via our website.”