CAMBRIDGE City Council has published two annual reports which tell the story of its performance during the exceptional year of 2020/21, when Cambridge, like everywhere else, was working within the constraints of coronavirus.
The Annual Report on the council’s Corporate Plan details the council’s achievements against the objectives and priorities it set for the year. It tells the story of how some services were unable to operate as normal due to Covid restrictions (e.g. Cambridge Live’s shows and events, community and leisure centres) while others carried on, adapting to Covid as the rules and risks changed during the year.
For instance, the council’s shared waste service continued to collect 50,000 waste bins each fortnight, missing just 0.2% of bins. 3,049 emergency repairs and 11,000 responsive repairs were carried out on council homes, 2,785 planning applications were processed and 159 new affordable homes were completed, including the council’s own new homes.
Meanwhile, the council redirected many of its staff onto new tasks to support communities and businesses through the challenges of coronavirus in ways that hadn’t been anticipated or planned for. It administered nearly £50m of business support grants to local businesses, ensured that all homeless people (316 people) were offered accommodation under the “everyone in” programme, facilitated a network of community resilience mutual aid groups and provided support for the most vulnerable.
Cllr Mike Davey, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources said “This report reminds us what a turbulent year it was, but also how dynamically the council responded to the challenges that coronavirus presented to Cambridge.
“From working in new ways with our colleagues from Public Health to support testing, tracing and managing outbreaks – to supporting community groups look after the most vulnerable and helping businesses re-open safely – the council played its part in keeping Cambridge safe.
“We’re grateful for residents’ support and understanding through this challenging time, and are committed to delivering high quality services within the resources available.”
The council has also published its Annual Complaints Report. This records how many complaints and compliments the council received in 2020/21. It shows a similar pattern reflecting the impact of some services and facilities (such as the Corn Exchange) not being able to open, but also the effect of action managers have taken to improve services or the way complaints are handled in the council.
Cllr Davey said: “We are pleased to note that the overall number of complaints received by the council fell from 1145 in the previous year to 791 in 2020/21. We recognise that this is due in part to the fact that some services weren’t operating as normal, but also in part to the focus managers have placed on responding to complaints – as further illustrated by the proportion of complaints being responded to within the target time rising from 81% to 85%.
“The council takes complaints seriously, and while we don’t always get everything right, we are always keen to learn from our mistakes and improve services where we can.
“We are also pleased to note the number of compliments received by the council over the year, from residents who recognise how hard the council has worked to deliver services through all the challenges everyone has faced.
“Whilst the number of compliments received formally through our system also shows a drop from previous years reflecting the covid impacts on services, council services such as the waste service received a large number of informal thanks and compliments too.”