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Learning from your complaints and comments

We will not always get it right and we need you to tell us where things go wrong so that we can improve for the future. When you make a complaint, comment or a compliment we want to learn from that experience. 

Here are some of the ways that we have improved our services by listening to you.

Lack of cleanliness in Margate, particularly outside the Old Town. Supervisors to do a weekend check of Northdown Road and Cliftonville games areas assess service levels and report back.
Unhappy with advice given at offices and Gateway with regards to handing in of postal vote. Redesign of system for handing in absent votes at main reception at future elections.
Not happy with Building Control's handling of the erection of a single storey extension We have instructed Surveyors to be more descriptive when recording site inspections.
Unhappy with services in Gateway. Wait times will continue to be monitored and Benefits staff will phone people before stopping their benefits.
Difficulties experienced with Housing Benefit overpayment recovery. Training for Overpayments Team
Unhappy that Cavendish Street toilets are closed and Gents are being used as unisex. Explained why half closed to effect major repairs and will look to improve notices where we have use similar system in the future.
Parking attendants checking car parks but not issuing tickets to people parking on double yellow lines. There may be a need to increase parking education within the district so that the public are more aware of the restrictions and parking law, especially around yellow lines. We have already tried to start this within the parking Consultation and will look at the results to indicate if there are issue in this area.
Customer requested bench but was not contacted. New seat supply procedure has been set up.
Customer unhappy with receiving council tax bills and recovery notices for a property that he is not the occupier of. Procedures revised to ensure this type of error does not happen again.
Customer was unable to get through on telephone number 577115 to renew his green waste subscription all day. Tried from 10am to 5pm. Next year green waste leaflets will go out at a different time of year so as not to clash with council tax billing letters.
Poor parking signage at Turner Contemporary. Looking at additional signs on site.
No information on New Years' fireworks. Over Christmas period when offices are shut, need to think about still having ability to update website so that information on cancellations ‎ etc is up to date‎.‎
Side waste not collected. More advertising needed re: strike days.
Left a message but no call back. We will be investigating the message system on the phones .
Correspondence received has already been opened or has not been properly sealed by mail centre before despatch. We have revisited the procedures for the manual checking of post with staff and have made arrangements for an engineer to check the machinery.
Continuing problems with seagull proof bags.  General letter required informing residents of the storage and use of seagull bags.
Overflowing dog waste bins in Dane Park over a whole weekend. Look at Parks round with view to varying start location.
Customer taken offence at tone of Council Tax Final Notice. Letter to be revised.
No record of previous call to customer services to rearrange direct debit for council tax and extend payment date, resulting in a reminder.  Learning from this customer to be fed into future staff training
State of Chalet at Viking Bay when customer took possession, toilet needs updating and particularly about the breakdown of the cliff lift. TLF have acknowledged that the service received was not as expected and the matter is being reviewed. Procedural changes have taken place regarding out call out numbers for the lift contractor.
Customer wishes to complain about customer service received whilst trying to obtain a refund We are aware that a number of other local Councils do their refunds in a different way. We are getting further legal advice and working with these Councils to see if we could make our refund process simpler - but still secure and compliant with anti-money laundering laws. We will issue fresh staff procedures to ensure that everyone is clear about the refund process and ensure there are clear enough markers to show why a refund may need to be made via a method other than BACS, so that we can better inform our customers. We will look at how many authorised staff we have for this process, to ensure we have the cover we need to stop absences affecting service standards. It is my experience that once we have addressed the processes and once the correct flow of information is available to our teams, the experience and expectations of customers will be much better met, in terms of competency, ability and attitude.

Complaint regarding process of Financial Declaration which resulted in huge overpayment for customer's Mother. Suggestion to

implement regular savings updates.

This complaint has highlighted a problem area. We will consider how we can best identify cases where capital changes may have a significant impact on benefit levels so that we may ensure benefit is properly determined, avoiding unnecessary overpayments and upset.

Slipway barrier lock change

Look at procedure for notifying users when locks are changed

Heating charges

Ensure clear information is provided to tenants on any heating charge increases at the outset

Damp and condensation in property Changes to procedure.  Any issues noted in specialist reports should be highlighted and sent to the tenant along with a covering letter drawing their attention to them
Rechargeable works order charges Review the RWO policy to ensure that decisions are made on balance of probabilities and that we do not charge for minor damage
Style of bins do not deter seagulls New bins ordered to replace them
Excessive waiting time when calling the call centre during peak times Resources to be used more effectively during peak periods
Unable to contact the Crematorium by phone A new phone system has been installed
Signage directions to Dreamland still exists The few remaining signs in Margate will be addressed
 Fairground erected in front of house without prior notice  Notices will be issued prior to siting of fairgrounds
Could not contact TDC staff at the Crematorium on the weekend  Emergency TDC out of office number to be made available on site
Long wait for contact from the Housing team A process has been put in place whereby a letter will be sent to advise tenants if we are unable to help and are closing their case.
Refuse not collected over the Christmas period  Collections over the Christmas period will take place 2010/11.
Out of date information on Planning Applications and Decisions Area teams reminded of the correct procedures for dealing with withdrawn applications.
Green waste collection missed  Highlighted on collection round sheets to avoid recurrence.
 Model aircraft used in Dane Park are dangerous  Signs put up banning their use and Community Wardens informed to enforce this.
 Dogs seen on beaches during summer season  Wardens to make more frequent visits to specific beaches.
Raw sewage reported  Drainage survey carried out.
Disabled resident moved to a more appropriate council property but floors were uneven  Re-let standards to be revised.
Standardised paragraphs in correspondence in relation to CPO were inappropriate in some cases Standardised paragraphs are under review and revised letters will be relaunched in November 2010.
Litter and glass left on on the beach at Palm Bay

An anti-litter campaign, highlighting the joint responsibility that the public and the council have to keep Thanet clean, was created featuring the 7 year old girl who wrote the complaint letter as well as TDC staff. The 'Lily Loves' Campaign includes posters, vehicle livery and free waste bags available on request from Bay Inspectors' offices, local cafes, shops and Margate's Visitor Information Centre.


Seagulls tearing open black sacks of rubbish left out on collection day Many properties in Thanet cannot have wheelie bins due to their location and so a trial of seagull proof bags is currently in progress in some of these areas. 
Sending out Council Tax bills and letters costs money - isn't it wasteful? We are required by law to send bills every time we make a change to your Council Tax account - so we are unable to avoid this. However, all our bills are now printed direct onto plain paper, so we don't have to order and hold large stocks of pre-printed stationery. This saves a lot of money and resources. During 2010 we will also be introducing e-billing - where we can send bills by e-mail to those customers who prefer this option.
Better publication of the Discretionary Housing Payments scheme Awareness campaign run, signposted from Council's website.  8.5% increase in payments made.
A number of local Estate Agents were concerned about how best to help their tenants who need to claim Housing Benefit. The rules are complex and it was easy for misunderstandings to lead to financial hardship.

We have helped organise forums and meetings where local Agents can get together and discuss issues. We have offered specialist training to agents' staff to improve efficiency and understanding. This has been very well received.



Maggots in wheeled bins

Leaflet produced and circulated in the next mailshot to customers – advising how to avoid maggots in wheeled bins

Wheeled bins not being delivered back to relevant houses once emptied and owners unable to identify their bins as they all look the same

Stickers put on all bins for residents to write their house number on

Parking in front of re-cycling area of block of flats 'No parking' signs installed
PC and telephone problems at the Broadstairs office Quarterly checks introduced to monitor service provision

Planning applications - automatic consultation letters not produced for neighbouring properties

In 2008, the Council is moving into electronic service delivery, which will include the production of an automatic notification letter to all residents living adjacent to a proposed development site

Comprehensive site notes need to be taken to support assessment of planning applications

A training session, with all Planning Officers from the Planning Applications Team in attendance, took place in January 2008

Benefit’s written correspondence was hard to understand

All standard letters were reviewed and made easier to understand

Customers missing their ‘slot’ at the Gateway as their number is not verbally called

Additional screens have been ordered for the Gateway - customer needs will be assessed at Greeter point and any additional assistance identified at that stage

Security fencing on allotments not aesthetically pleasing As a result of the learning outcome, the next time that Allotment Service send out information/notifications to allotment holders, they will provide an illustration of the proposed fencing.  Also, to try and make the fencing more aesthetically pleasing, the Allotment Service will look to providing the fencing in a green painted finish
Resident unaware of Christmas collection schedule Information will be sent out earlier and in a variety of formats

Delay in delivering green bins

Additional delivery crew added to clear the back log
Litter Targeted street cleansing and increased frequency
Un-franked mail Franking machinery checked and procedures for manual preparation and handling of outgoing mail revisited with staff, to mitigate future risk

Revenues - error with Direct Debit Instruction being punched into system

A new system will be implemented by 30.06.08 to avoid any Officer errors when putting Direct Debit details onto an account. The system will identify immediately any errors made (currently we have to wait for the Banks to identify this), ensuring customers have no delay in their instalments being collected

Revenues - failure to notify customer that their Direct Debit had been returned by the Bank unpaid

A new system will be implemented by 30.06.08 that will allow letters to be automatically sent to customers where their Direct Debit is returned unpaid

Revenues - Delay in processing information received and errors made when processing

Emphasis is being placed on corporate target for correspondence being processed within 10 days.  We have introduced a dedicated trainer who is also responsible for undertaking quality checking.  Therefore complaints identified as officer error will be significantly reduced and errors will be communicated to the member of staff concerned immediately.  Where required, further training will be provided

Notices of proposed works to trees not positioned

Tree Officer informed it is essential that site notices should be placed as close to the location of the tree as possible in full public view. On occasions two or even three notices may be required and this must be a judgement made on site with the balance between being close to the tree and the notice being publicly accessible. Tree Officer should err on the side of caution and if he has any doubts to seek a second opinion from Line Manager or Section Head

Ongoing reviews needed of DDA compliant buildings

Now TDC is 100% DDA compliant, officers will re-survey buildings to see if additional improvements can be made