Newcastle council boss vows to reduce phone line delays – with some residents forced to wait 40 minutes

Newcastle Council’s top boss has pledged to reduce waiting times for people trying to call the authority’s hotline – after complaints that some are waiting 40 minutes to get through.

Pam Smith, chief executive of the City Council, admitted this week that residents are ‘not getting the service they should be’ when they try to speak to local authority staff on the phone. At a Civic Center meeting on Thursday, Elswick Councilor Nicu Ion asked what could be done about the long wait times, saying his residents had been particularly frustrated by the delays.

He told the council’s Oversight and Review Coordinating Committee: ‘You have the switchboard responding in five minutes, but by the time you get to the council’s tax officer, that’s another wait. . To get to the right person, the reports I receive take about 40 minutes.

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The council’s website urges visitors to fill in online forms “where possible” to contact the council on matters such as council tax, businesses, tariffs, penalty notices and places in the schools. Its general phone line is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday – but Council Tax and Housing Assistance is closed every Wednesday.

Ms Smith said: ‘The phone system we currently have is not optimal, I understand residents are not getting a good experience.

She added: “I understand that residents are not getting the service they should be getting, [but] there have been some improvements in the service. I can tell you wait times average 5.49 minutes, but that won’t help the experience of someone waiting longer.

“We are looking at this area in terms of manpower and systems. We are also looking at the back office part of this system because if it is detached from the front office response, it will take longer.

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