To receive and consider the report of the Deputy Chief Executive (enclosed).
The Committee welcomed Asim Khan Director (Customer and Digital) Shared Services and Councillor Adrian Lowe, Executive Member (Customer and Streetscene Services).
It was highlighted that since the last Customer and Digital Performance Panel, operational challenges occurred because of the ongoing global pandemic, but services have adapted.
The process of Shared Services changed the landscape of the directorate and Directors were now responsible across both Chorley and South Ribble. The Customer and Digital Directorate included
n Customer Services
n Street Scene
The budget for the Directorate was £6,051,880 with a variance of 4.7% equaling £285,703. The biggest attribute to this was the vacant posts.
Paragraph 13 highlighted the three colour rating system, a green star indicated ‘Performance is better than target’, a blue circle is ‘Worse than target by within threshold (5%)’ and red triangle is ‘Worse than target, outside threshold (5%)’
The number of online requests that were received had increased significantly compared to the previous 12 months, with fewer dissatisfied users compared to Q4 2019/20.
It was noted that during the last twelve months, the Council suspended recovery action for Council Tax, instead opting to send reminder notices. Collection of Council Tax was down 0.9% (£639,000). This figure was worse than Q4 2019/20 but was within threshold. Recovery of non-payment was due to recommence at the start of July.
There had been a reduction in the time taken to process housing benefit and change of circumstance.
There had been a significant increase in missed residential waste and recycling collection, as the council recorded 43 missed collections per 100,000.
Members understood that due to lockdown, the amount of cardboard waste was higher and questioned if an increase in collections was likely. Members were advised that the Council were always open to feedback from residents. Despite monthly collections, the size of the receptacle had been increased to 240L, and that residents could request an additional bin or leave cardboard next to the bin if required.
The Council outperformed targets for collection of public litter bins, high street cleaning routes completed, and ground maintenance service requests completed on time. Ad hoc service requests failed to outperform the previous year but the figure was greatly above the target of 80%.
All of the projects part of the ICT strategy were green.
In relation to the 2020/21 corporate projects, the website was delivered but development and rollout was affected by Covid-19. The programme to deliver a cleaner and more attractive borough was linked into the streetscene targets.
Members questioned whether the primary contact point to the council would be online after the pandemic and if there was an expected target for face to face interaction in the next 12 months.
Asim believed that demand for online services will continue to grow due to the convenience provided, enabled by significant investment in the ICT infrastructure. The Council understood the demand for face to face interaction and will continue to support the opportunity where possible. The target for 2020/21 for online service requests was 35% but the actual result was 52.74%.
Members questioned if the 80% targets set for Streetscene was too low and suggested 90%. The suggestion was acknowledged, and consideration would be given to raising the targets, but Members were made aware that the weather had the potential to significantly affect the work of Streetscene.
In response to Members seeking clarification about a data breach, Asim explained the process in which customers received information from the Council, and that the Council were notified that the system could be manipulated to access other requests. The Council acted quickly and appropriately to resolve the issue. The Council reported itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for investigation and it was ruled that there was no breach as there was no access to sensitive information through the manipulation.
The Chair raised that the five Chorley Parks with Green Flag status was positive, but remarked they have had that status since 2010, and questioned if the Council had plans or consideration to increase the number.
Cllr Lowe was open to potential suggestions for consideration.
The Chair sought clarity about the policy of mini meadows and wildlife. Councillor Lowe agreed that the policy was contentious with some residents. The project had successfully delivered a variance in bloom and contributed positively to the Council’s wider green agenda.
Both Councillor Lowe and Asim agreed to provide members a list of officers and their roles to enable greater communication, especially for new Members, but the first point of call was the contact centre. Chris Walmsley should be informed of any unreasonable delays, who would then provide an explanation. Members were also able to approach Asim directly if required.
Decision: The report was noted.