You lodged more than 1,200 complaints to Wakefield Council last year

Wheelie bins
Wheelie bins

Dissatisfied customers lodged more than 1,200 complaints against 
Wakefield Council last year – mainly about its services.

The number of complaints it received in 2014/15 rose by seven per cent on the previous year, according to a report to the council’s standards committee.

The majority - 968 - were categorised as ‘corporate complaints’, those expressing general dissatisfaction about council services.

Of these, nearly 50 per cent were regarding the council’s StreetScene team, which deals with grass cutting, wheelie bin replacements and allotments as well as other street and environmental services.

Highways maintenance was the second most grumbled-about service.

More than 125 complaints were categorised under ‘children’s social care procedures’. Over half of these related to assessment and child protection services and nearly 20 per cent concerned looked after children.

Potholes on North Avenue, Wakefield.

Potholes on North Avenue, Wakefield.

And a further 107 complaints were categorised under ‘adult social care procedures’.

Overall, more than half the complaints were as a result of the council not doing what it says it will, with other common reasons to grumble including the condition of and access to facilities, and officer conduct.

The report said the complaints provided “valuable feedback” to the council which can help it to improve its services.

During the next 12 months, it plans to improve customer experience by analysing customer contact in more detail to identify problems earlier, meet monthly with different services to measure improvement and deliver complaints training to managers.

Helen Grantham, the council’s assistant chief executive, and service director for organisational change, said: “Our aim is to put the customer at the heart of what we do and build our services around their needs. We want to ensure we get it right first time, so when this doesn’t happen it is important that we listen to and act on feedback from our customers.

“Wakefield Council like many others has seen significant cuts to its budget. There have been huge changes across the council and this has affected some of the frontline services people have come to rely on.

“We continue to work closely with services, particularly with those who look after key areas like our roads, bin collections and street cleaning, to improve how services are delivered.

“To help our customers talk to us we’ve made it even easier for them to get in touch so people can complain - or compliment us - 24/7 now, by email, via our website, through social media or by phone. They can also get in touch in person at our customer access point.

“Last year (2014/15) we dealt with 1,202 complaints, which although puts us below the national average, shows there is still room for improvement. Work to try and resolve complaints on the initial contact with the customer is already paying off, with a reduction in the number of complaints escalated.”

Each complaint that the council receives passes through various stages of investigation, from one to three.

There was an 11 per cent increase in stage one complaints last year while the number of those unresolved at this point and passing to stage 2 dropped by three per cent.

After investigation, 35 per cent of complaint were upheld and 14 per cent were partially upheld. But 43 per cent were not upheld at all.

The figures rank the council 39 out of 131 local authorities based on the number of complains per 10,000 people.

LG Inform, which compiles the data, say an average of 32 complaints are made in the district per 10,000 people. The national average is 33.

The council also received more than 850 compliments, most of which praised staff for their excellent 
customer service.

Complaints to Wakefield Council by ward 2014/2015

Which wards had the most complaints?

- Wakefield North

- Stanley and Outwood East

- Ackworth, North Elmsall and Upton

- Altofts and Whitwood

- Wrenthorpe and Outwood West

Which wards had the least complaints?

- Pontefract South

- Wakefield East

- Airedale and Ferry Fryston

- Castleford Central and Glasshoughton

- Knottingley