BY TOBY PORTER
A town hall has received almost 5,000 complaints in the past year, a big drop on last year – and more than 800 of them were about council tax.
A total of 4,720 accusations, grievances and gripes were lodged with Lambeth council in the past 12 months.
Rubbish collection, poor council service on housing repairs and parking were all big issues for the people of Lambeth.
The figures mark a decrease of 6.5 per cent from the previous year and a near 17 per cent reduction from the year before that, which saw a large spike in complaints.
The council has two stages in its complaint process; ‘local resolution’ is when the council resolves the issue by dealing directly with the complainant, and ‘final review’ is when the first stage has not been successful and the complaint is investigated by the corporate complaints unit.
If the complainant is still unhappy after this they can go to the local government Ombudsman.
The top five areas people took issue with were council tax (845 complaints), parking and enforcement (589), Veolia (530), housing and responsive repairs (411) and benefits (335).
The vast majority of council tax complaints focused on the quality of the council’s service (85 per cent), followed by service failure and delays in receiving refunds for overpayments.
The report said: “Despite the considerable volumes received, around 84 per cent of all council tax complaints were not upheld, which indicates that on the whole the correct decisions were being made.”
With parking services the largest proportion of complaints were about the council’s decision-making (42 per cent), followed by service failure (27 per cent) and delays (15 per cent).
Most complaints concerned the issuing of parking permits (37 per cent) and the penalty charge appeals process (31 per cent).
According to the report, more than half of all complaints were upheld.
Two thirds of the complaints about Veolia were over the collection or non-collection of rubbish – more than 60 per cent of the complaints were upheld.
The most common issues with housing repairs were related to communal
property, leasehold service charges and major works bills, and antisocial
Complaints about benefits were over delays in assessments (51 per cent),
followed by service failure (28 per cent) and quality of service (11 per cent) – 30 per cent were upheld.
The council received 348 final review complaints in the year, a decrease of eight per cent from the previous year – 159 were upheld or partly upheld.
According to the report: “The vast majority of cases were upheld due to either quality of service or service failure.
“This means that in the customer’s view they did not receive the level of service they expected or deserved.
A Lambeth council spokesman said: “We are pleased to see that the number of complaints has fallen by almost a fifth over the past two years.
The report shows that as well as the number of complains made having fallen, that the vast majority are resolved at a local level.
“We will continue to take all complaints seriously, stay focused on customer satisfaction, and keep working to make sure complaints are resolved quickly and efficiently.”