Few grum­bles on Ar­ran as com­plaints rise

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North Ayr­shire Coun­cil has re­ceived 1,813 com­plaints for the 2017/2018 year – up by 275 from the previous year – ac­cord­ing to its an­nual re­port which pro­vides a de­tailed anal­y­sis of com­plaints from across the lo­cal au­thor­ity area, in­clud­ing Ar­ran.

The 32-page re­port in­cludes fig­ures and re­sults from the pe­riod be­tween April 2017 and March 2018.

The vast ma­jor­ity of gripes, 1,237 of them, re­lated to the coun­cil’s place depart­ment, which in­cludes com­mer­cial ser­vices such as roads, trans­port and waste ser­vices and the phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, which in­cludes hous­ing, build­ing ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment. In­cluded in these were com­plaints re­gard­ing the clo­sure and trans­fer of pub­lic con­ve­niences.

Res­i­dents moaned about street light­ing, grass cut­ting, re­moval of a bus ser­vice and missed bins, among oth­ers. Out of the to­tal of all com­plaints, 37 per cent were up­held while 18 per cent were par­tially up­held.

Irvine and Kil­win­ning res­i­dents made the ma­jor­ity of the com­plaints, ow­ing to the higher pop­u­la­tion of the towns. Ar­ran res­i­dents, along with Mill­port and Skel­mor­lie, pro­vided the fewest num­ber of com­plaints, once again a re­flec­tion of pop­u­la­tion sizes.

Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Elma Mur­ray said: ‘North Ayr­shire Coun­cil is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing high qual­ity ser­vices for North Ayr­shire res­i­dents, busi­nesses and vis­i­tors but it is recog­nised dis­sat­is­fac­tion will some­times oc­cur. When it does, we want to know what went wrong, why it went wrong and what we can do to make things right.

‘We re­view our com­plaint han­dling per­for­mance reg­u­larly to en­sure we learn from mis­takes and use the feed­back we re­ceive to im­prove ser­vices the coun­cil pro­vides.’

The coun­cil said there was a ‘valid rea­son’ for the jump in com­plaints to 1,813, up from 1,538 the year be­fore, say­ing that the leap was due to so­cial work is­sues now be­ing in­cluded in sta­tis­tics and that a surge in school com­plaints had been at­trib­uted to bet­ter train­ing in iden­ti­fy­ing prob­lems raised.

The re­port stated: ‘The 38 per cent in­crease in com­plaints for ed­u­ca­tion is the re­sult of schools be­ing bet­ter able to iden­tify com­plaints af­ter re­ceiv­ing ad­di­tional sup­port and guid­ance from the customer com­plaint team through­out the year.’

The coun­cil said a rise in pol­icy com­plaints was due to ‘the chang­ing of the coun­cil’s flag fly­ing pro­to­col, the re­moval of a free bus ser­vice and the re­moval or trans­fer of some pub­lic con­ve­niences’.

Also in­cluded in the re­port were more than 570 com­pli­ments which recorded praise for coun­cil ser­vices. These in­cluded cross-coun­cil com­pli­ments where cus­tomers com­mended more than one ser­vice and some were in­ter­nal, where em­ploy­ees com­pli­mented other em­ploy­ees.

The an­nual com­plaints re­port, which can be viewed on­line on the North Ayr­shire Coun­cil web­site, was pre­sented to the coun­cil’s au­dit and scru­tiny com­mit­tee.

Elma Mur­ray, North Ayr­shire Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive.

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