They may well be tempted to shrug their shoulders and blame the chaos caused by the elected mayor fiasco, but Stoke-on-Trent City Council have experienced a rise in complaints this year with regards to the services they provide. Perhaps more shockingly, this disaster-prone council have also seen a drop in the number of compliments – who’d have guessed they received any to start with from recent news reports…?
The Sentinel also reports that the council had to pay out £3,635 to solve disputes.
So what do they have to say about it? Grovelling apologies? Or perhaps they put their hands-up and admit a decline in standards?
Dream on. The word ‘bullish’ springs to mind as Labour group Leader Cllr Mike Barnes dismisses the concern of the residents he’s supposed to serve, saying "The rise in complaints wasn't that significant, as it can be put down to the number of different ways in which people can complain now”.
Luckily, one canny commenter on the newspaper’s website saw through this casual excuse and did a little research, adding:
“This dismissal is just insulting. You don't have to be technogeek to research other councils via the internet, and discover many (I counted ten before I got bored) who have had falling complaints levels, year-on-year for many years. (In the case of one London Borough - since 1996.)
So what's so special about Stoke? Are you trying to tell us that the people of Stoke have only just discovered email Mr Barnes? - Luca Gradenigo, Baldwins Gate”
As if it’s not bad enough that this local authority is attracting an increasing number of complaints, hiring staff to deal with them and paying out taxpayers’ money to rectify issues that arise, it’s just plain worrying that cavalier councillors can nonchalantly cast their hand aside and blame trends in complaining rather than stepping-up to the mark and making themselves accountable.
Local residents buy their services from the council and pay for Cllr Mike Barnes and his colleagues to do a job – when and if they choose to complain (and let’s face it, there seem to be pretty regular opportunities for someone to launch a legitimate complaint against this council), they deserve to be listened to, because at the moment this local authority appears to be falling pretty short with regards to it’s services, and local taxpayers must be feeling short-changed.