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Complaints to Cambridge City Council fall by 30 per cent

Complaints to Cambridge City Council fell by 30 per cent last year, coinciding with the pandemic.

Cambridge Guildhall. Picture Keith Heppell. (49202072)
Cambridge Guildhall. Picture Keith Heppell. (49202072)

A report to the council’s strategy and resources committee says that 791 complaints were received during 2020/21, compared with 1,145 in the previous year.

The council says: “The reduced number of complaints received over the last year reflects the impact of the pandemic on some services and facilities, such as the Corn Exchange, not being able to open and also the effect of action taken by managers to improve services or the way complaints are handled in the council.”

The only service that saw an increase in complaints was environmental services, covering streets and open spaces and environmental health.

The report says the rise was due to the temporary market closure in December, implemented due to fears over Covid. The council says 55 complaints were submitted over two days in response to the closure.

Complaints to the planning service more than halved, from 111 the year before to 51, according to the report. But that total was only 18 in 2018/19.

For planning, the report says the “main service complaints themes remain focused on delays and lack of communications but there has been a reduction in the number of complaints focused around decision processes”.

It says a process to “head off formal complaints in relation to initial chasers about lack of communications and delays” has been put in place as those are “the main focus for the majority” of complaints to the Greater Cambridge Planning Service.

Labour’s Mike Davey, executive councillor for finance and resources, said the council is pleased to see the reduction.

He said: “We recognise that this is due in part to the fact that some services were not operating as normal, but also in part to the focus managers have placed on responding to complaints – as further illustrated by the proportion of complaints being responded to within the target time rising from 81 per cent to 85 per cent.

“The council takes complaints seriously and while we don’t always get everything right, we are always keen to learn from our mistakes and improve services where we can.”

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