IN RECENT months my council colleagues and I, have noticed a large increase in the number of vulnerable residents calling for help with matters that relate to the services Ealing Council provides.
Activities such as renewing parking permits and buying visitors’ vouchers, for some, have become impossible. If they go to Ealing Town Hall they are turned away. If they phone up they are not given assistance. When they write they do not get a letter or a call from Ealing Council.
Many elderly or vulnerable residents do not find it easy to access the Council’s internet forms to gain the services they are entitled to. It has come to something when I have to print out forms for residents when Ealing Council would not send them to residents! Ealing Council should be providing a better and more accessible service to these residents.
Three years ago Ealing Liberal Democrats persuaded Ealing Council to adopt a Customer Care Charter so their residents can get a better service. Since then, the number of residents reporting customer service problems has increased massively. Last night, one resident recounted an example of where an Ealing Council member of staff hung up the phone.
The Council assumes everyone can do everything on line. Clearly this is not the case. The Council has paid lip service to their own charter. By giving vulnerable residents a ‘bad deal’ they are being treated with no respect. By all means encourage residents to use additional on line methods but we should not be stopping methods, whether they be face-to-face or via the telephone, which many residents need from the Council.
In the run up to the local elections which take place in 2014 the Liberal Democrats will continue to press Ealing Council to make improvements for residents including:
Answering telephone calls more quickly. Currently many people hang up due to the long wait
Ensuring that services offered to vulnerable residents are not reduced further
When residents call Ealing Council they are offered help and advice instead of being told they must use an internet based services
Sadly we have seen Labour-run Ealing Council shut many and about to close more day centres. This will have a negative effect on many vulnerable, whether they are elderly or disabled. Liberal Democrats will not treat the vulnerable as a difficulty. They have every right to a good customer service from Ealing Council and a Liberal Democrat run Ealing Council will provide a good customer experience for them.
Councillor Gary Malcolm,
Group Leader, Ealing Liberal Democrats