Of course it is not but the question is no more ridiculous that the hidden accusations against me during my time as Deputy Leader, namely that I was abolishing telephone contact for residents.
I was at the Heart of Hounslow the other day and looked at some of the Council communication (Carer Information) on the Notice Board.
As you will see, a telephone number is at the bottom. But not a single page on the Council’s website is mentioned, nor an email address given.
Some information does exist on the web. Here is one page. Why not included in the communication? Unfortunately, it is typical of the change approach I have seen since the Change of Administration.
I make no apology for being a fan of eForms and the internet more generally. I always recommend to residents that when they are making a request for a service that they look to see whether it can be done online. Here is a link to a number of the Council’s eForms.
Over the years, I have met people who have brought concerns to my attention and it has always been easier to resolve matters when there are reference numbers (automatically generated when using an eForm) and/or an audit trail. It is much harder when there has been a reliance on conversation alone, especially if a resident and the relevant officer at the Council do not agree what was discussed.
If used correctly, the internet puts more control in the hands of the individual. That is why I like it, in my role as a Councillor, so much.
Beyond the above, the private sector has changed the way it interacts with its customers as channel shifting to the internet reduces its cost base and at the same time enhances the customer service experience. From flights, trains, events, etc people now want to get things done efficiently over the internet. A Local Authority should be no different and a lot of progress was made during my time as Deputy Leader and the Lead Member for Customer Services.
Going back to the above photographs, were a page on the website offered, it is likely that the information required would be answered through self-serve. This is win-win because that resident has not had to spend money on a telephone call and the Officer they would have been speaking with can instead deal with other enquiries from those that really do need a conversation over the phone.
Of course, I do not want the minority of residents without access to modern access channels to be left behind or excluded which is why new investment was made in the telephone services during my time.
Internally, on more than one occasion, Councillors have been invited to events either through the internal (paper) mail or by sending an email. The modern and efficient way is through using the calendar function on the email system as all the recipients need to do is click accept or decline.
Going backwards is not an option and I hope I do not see more examples of the above. Never has the need to be efficient in terms of processes and contact been so great.