Agenda item

Children Services and Community Safety Partnership, Customer Services, The Old Town Hall, Communications and Community Partnerships Q1 Performance


M Rawdon introduced the report and provided an update on service performance over quarter 1 2020/2021 and also highlighted key achievements over this same period. He said members will note that services needed to be delivered in different ways due to covid-19 and services had to adapt and change to provide the response to covid-19. For example, the adventure playgrounds were shut and staff were redeployed to help across the organisation, mainly around assisting the housing cleaners and welfare calls to residents. The Old Town Hall team have supported Environmental Health making contact with residents and businesses. The Community Safety Team helped deliver food parcels to vulnerable residents.


Councillor Mahmood said the report was very good with lots of positive updates. He highlighted an error on page 16 in the report and asked for this to be amended.


Councillor England thanked M Rawdon for the report and recognised the challenges faced and the achievements. He recognised the improvement in answering the CSU phone lines. He asked M Rawdon what he thought the main factor was in this improvement.


M Rawdon said he thought this was due to the fact that we could quickly deploy our staff so that they could all work from home. Part time working from home was introduced in the team 12 months ago in order to try and retain our staff, so the transition was not a difficult process. We have noticed that there were a lot of residents unable to make face to face visits and therefore forcing to make calls or go online and this has showed there is not a great need for services of the CSU to always meet face to face. He thought the staff were more productive at home.


Councillor England said that the reports show great levels of performance and asked if they will retain home working once the pandemic has passed. He referred to the paragraph on communications and asked if it was possible to get some numbers from the website in terms of which pages are being visited most frequently and which campaigns are most popular.


M Rawdon said those statistics are available and will incorporate in the next report.


Councillor Adeleke said well done to M Rawdon and his team on a good report. He referred to the team’s charity efforts on behalf of the council and asked if there was any attempt to publicise this. He added to Councillor England’s comments re home working and was concerned that not everyone is comfortable with working from home and asked if staff would have a choice on where to work. He gave his thanks to Councillor Banks for arranging to have the war memorials cleaned.


M Rawdon said the food parcels were part of the wider Herts Help campaign so not sure what messages they have publicised, we can look at speaking to Communications department about how we get the positive messages out. In terms of the CSU, we can deliver the service whilst working from home when the building isn’t open to the public but need to balance with regard to the operation when people back into the Forum, we will probably use a blended approach with some staff at home and some in the office,


Councillor Pringle agreed with the blended approach to working from home and asked if there would be a staff satisfaction survey to find out what works which could help recruitment and retention.


L Roberts said that in the CSU a large number of staff work part time so getting the right blend to make sure the office in the Forum is covered and answering the phones will be challenging but is something the team are keen to pursue. There has been a staff survey to understand if staff felt they had been supported and there have been some ‘Learning from lockdown’ sessions with group managers across the council to understand from them what the positives and negatives have been to address them in the next phases of the new normal programme. Line managers were encouraged to keep in contact with their team so staff did not feel isolated.


Councillor Pringle referred to domestic abuse statistics under paragraph 3.1.6. She asked how these figures compare from year to year and wondered if there was any indication from other services whether there is a perception of a dramatic increase in levels of domestic abuse. She asked if there were any drivers behind an increase such as unsuitable housing or economic factors.


M Rawdon said that from this quarter to the previous one there has been an increase in domestic abuse cases.


L Roberts said the Community Wellbeing Group has continued where various organisations meet and had confirmed the increase in domestic abuse cases.


L Warden said there were 123 cases reported in the first seven weeks of lockdown which was a considerable increase and a lot was due to relationship breakdowns and people fleeing relationships. The safeguarding officer is working with Herts County Council to map these cases and where highlights have been within each ward to identify any extra support that could be given and prevention work. The women’s refuges have been constantly full so this is a considerable pressure identified anecdotally.


Councillor Hollinghurst referred to the performance of answering calls and it now being quicker.  He said the success of this depends on the options available to the person making the call and that people were abandoning calls because the automated phone system does not offer the right option.


Councillor Griffiths said that the Council would have figures on that as all abandoned calls were recorded. 


M Rawdon confirmed that the call handling abandon rate was 3% for this quarter, whereas previously it has been around 10-12%.




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