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Cambridge City Council

Council reviews complaints to learn lessons and improve services

News release from 2 October 2020

CAMBRIDGE City Councillors will be reviewing an annual report on the complaints the council received during 2019/20 at a meeting of the council’s Strategy and Resources scrutiny committee on 5 October. 

Each year the council reviews the number and type of complaints received, and actions taken in response to complaints. This is part of seeking to make sure that lessons are learned so that services to the public can be improved. 

This year’s report shows that the level of complaints in 2019/20 was comparable to the previous year, with 1145 complaints last year compared to 1161 in 2018/19.   

Some services saw a drop in complaints, notably the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, which saw complaints drop from 526 in 2018/19 to 398 in 2019/20.   

Other services saw complaints rise, including the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service (up from 18 to 111 while the service went through a transitional period) and the Estates and Facilities service (which manages repairs in council houses) up from 124 to 175. 

In both cases, managers have since put plans in place including restructuring and recruitment which are aimed to address the issues which led to complaints. For instance, the Planning service is using technology to ensure that residents get a quicker response, to address one of the key areas of complaint.

The council also reviews the compliments it receives, and in 2019/20 it received 164 compliments, again similar to previous years’ numbers. These compliments were primarily from residents who felt council staff had done a particularly good job. 

Cllr Mike Davey, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources, commented: “Cambridge City Council is keen to hear from residents on their experiences of our services, good or bad – I would always encourage residents to make their views known. It’s vital that we know if our service doesn’t meet residents’ expectations, so that we can see what can be done to improve those services. 

“I’m pleased to note that some services have seen a drop in the number of complaints received, and that overall services are responding to residents on their complaints more promptly now, with 81% resolved within the target time of ten working days – up from 76% and 68% in the previous two years respectively.   

“Managers are also resolving complaints at the first stage 91% of the time now. 

Where services have received more complaints, it is important that managers take action to address that, and it is encouraging to see that happening too.” 

Cambridge City Council has hundreds of thousands of interactions with customers each year, across a wide range of services. For example, the waste service collects around 316,000 bins in the city each month, 99.82% of those collected successfully.  The council also received 210,000 phone and electronic contacts, and 56,000 face-to-face contacts at its Customer Service Centre in 2019/20.