Welwyn Hatfield Council complaints rise 54% in three years

PUBLISHED: 16:57 15 June 2018

Welwyn Garden City resident John Stevens has had several run-ins with the council. Picture: Kevin Lines.

Welwyn Garden City resident John Stevens has had several run-ins with the council. Picture: Kevin Lines.

Archant

The number of complaints made to Welwyn Hatfield Council has soared in the last three years, latest figures have revealed.

In the 2017/18 financial year, 769 complaints, ranging from parking to fly-tipping, were officially logged compared to 597 the year before, and 499 in 2015/16.

The increase comes as the number of compliments declined during the same period, with 146, 111, and 103 recorded respectively for the three years.

A Welwyn Hatfield Council spokeswoman said: “Clearly we want to reduce the number of complaints we receive so to see a rise in these numbers is disappointing, but it’s useful to put the figures in perspective.

“It’s fewer than 800 complaints across the year while we deliver a huge range of services to over 120,000 people every day.”

However, Blythway resident John Stevens, who has had several run-ins with the council, said he believed the figures were misleadingly low and in reality would be three times greater.

He claimed that complaints are only officially recorded if submitted via email or letter, so people phoning in would not be included in the figures.

The council spokeswoman confirmed complaints can be taken over the phone and in person as well.

Mr Stevens said: “Talking to just my neighbours, they are all fed up to the back teeth of Serco, because they do not do the job properly, and they are fed up of how this road and Haldens generally are going.”

Labour’s local leader Kieran Thorpe said he also places little faith in the figures – citing complaints that are not recorded, along with how rarely people praise a council regardless of how it operates.

“The council needs to get away from a culture of looking at graphs and indicators from misrepresentative statistics like these,” he added.

The WHC spokeswoman said making complaints has been made easier as residents can submit them via desktop, mobile, letter or in person.

She added that the number of people making complaints online over the last two years has doubled.

“This feedback is hugely valuable to us; complaints are used by teams to help continually improve our services and find better ways of working,” she said.

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