Throughout this year and beyond you will see a swathe of improvements the council is bringing.
Some will be visible, like the regeneration works across the borough. Others will be behind the scenes, in the shape of technology improvements to help the way you interact with important services.
You may have already used our refreshed Customer Account page, and if you haven’t signed up it is easy to do so. So far 25,851 of our residents are benefiting from the service, and by downloading the app you can connect with us on the go. There are a few new sections which can be accessed directly from the homepage. For example, with just a couple of keystrokes you can find which schools are in your current district, or near your new home.
We’ve added direct links for frequently used services such as paying your council tax, or a parking fine and finding out about planning appeals.
24 hour self-service
We want to make 24/7 self-service a realistic and workable option for those who need it. At the same time, speaking to someone face to face at Shute End is still an option. You decide when you interact, at a time that suits you, and there is still expert advice on hand.
Our far reaching 21st Century Council programme is making a significant contribution to our overall plans, and we are becoming a leaner, more efficient council costing significantly less to run.
Some changes have already been introduced with success, making residents’ lives easier. During the last 12 months we have changed how people can apply for blue badges, making the experience quicker and more user friendly. Gone are the lengthy eight-week waits for a decision. Now, online, a response is given instantly.
The changes we are introducing may mean the method with which you interact with us will be different – and you may have already encountered some of the approaches we have introduced.
During 2017 we introduced self-service kiosks at six libraries across the borough. This meant we could extend opening hours and give residents a quicker service.
And earlier this year, in January, we introduced a new solution that has improved the customer payment experience online. New chip and PIN machines have been rolled out across the borough to libraries, children’s centres, registrars, planning and the Dinton Activity Centre, introducing contactless payment.
What else can you expect?
We want you to have a better experience, with more queries and issues dealt with at the first point of contact by multi skilled officers. There will also be fewer stages in processes. This in turn will free up our specialists to help with more complex enquiries.
Soon we will be launching Citizens Access - Revenues (CA-R). This is an online portal for our revenues services, such as council tax and business rates. It is being developed currently and due to go live in the spring. It will help with day to day tasks, such as reporting when you move in or out of the borough, setting up direct debits and applying for discounts.
Making it easier to find out about planned developments
We have already launched a new mapping software service which has received good feedback from people. Residents can search for planning applications near their home, and get all the details at the click of a button. The new software is much more intuitive. It’s also easier to report incidents of graffiti, or a broken lamp post, by using this map to help us pinpoint locations and resolve incidents quickly.
Residents will be able to track applications online; submit and review documents; and view planning apps on a map.
Local hubs make keeping in touch easier
We will be setting up local hubs which will mean additional points of contact for residents. Our borough covers a wide area, and this means residents won’t have to travel to Shute End for their requirements. Traditional, frequently asked queries can be dealt with locally freeing your time, and allowing us to concentrate our resources in the right way.
Keeping up to date with road works and highways improvements
Residents will be able to see all upcoming planned works via a map. For example, if you ring to report a pothole, a member of staff from customer management will help you determine the severity of it (location, threat to life). This will be reviewed by one of our locality officers and then reviewed. Online, you will be able to track the progress of the query you have submitted, and the work to repair the hole.
By streamlining our approach to reflect a changing, digital world, we are giving residents more options to access services in a variety of ways. We want to protect services and continue to deliver value. We are becoming a leaner, more efficient council, costing significantly less to run.