Agenda page 135 bullet point 3 refers to the ability for residents to track the progress of their issue as it is resolved by the Council. How will this work in practice?
Through the introduction of new technology customers can now report issues or request services online and depending on the type of service they will be able to track progress of their case.
For example, a resident can submit their planning application online using the National Planning Portal. Once we have validated their application they will receive an acknowledgement email with a reference number. This reference number allows the resident to view their planning application via our online Planning Register, where they can track the progress of their case. As their application progresses the status will automatically update on this page until a decision is published.
Also, as part of the new Highways technology, residents will be able to visit our website and report a defect or request for service. The resident can request to receive an update on progress when reporting the issue, they will receive a reference number and a “click here” web link that will route them back to the enquiry on the website, where they can review the activity on their case.
An additional benefit is that residents will be able to upload photos of defects and pinpoint the exact location on a map. If the defect has already been reported, instead of expecting residents to duplicate the report to get feedback, they can subscribe to the “ongoing case” and the resident will be able to track progress through the website.
This is a significant improvement to the quality of our services to our residents.
I welcome that answer and it is very, very, helpful and I would add that my question should not be taken as a criticism of what goes on in this Council. The bottom line is that Century 21 is doing a very good job and is going the right way but the relationship between individual residents and the Council is, I think, being lost in the process. I did ask a question before about the availability of a telephone directory to Members perhaps even on the website. Could I suggest that as a matter of urgency this issue should be passed to Scrutiny to look at? I could have enlarged much more on this if you had wanted me to but obviously not.
Because this is really part of 21st Century Council and the ongoing review of that, I think it will be included in the review of the progress of 21st Century Council as Scrutiny scrutinises that programme. I do not think I would want to send it back specifically but I think it needs to be included in what is already being done.
In response to Gary Cowan’s query about whether a telephone directory of Council Officers could be provided for members of the public Councillor Pollock responded as follows:
I think you are being disingenuous. One of the points of 21st Century Council is that there are people at the end of a telephone to answer residents’ queries and that we try and protect specialists so that they can get on with their specialist roles. We have more people who can answer more of the questions of residents so there is nothing in 21st Century Council that seeks to disenfranchise anyone who is unable to use the new technology and we are thoroughly committed to ensuring that all of our residents are able to access our services. So I think you misunderstand there. I think the question around the technology and the question around how it works in practice, how people who cannot use it, is the role of Scrutiny as they scrutinise the 21st Century programme.