Councillors in Babergh and Mid Suffolk have tonight given their backing to proposals to improve the delivery of public services from new accommodation in the county.
In a report to the Council on its Public Access Strategy, which included deciding on four options for the new co-location of the joint Councils Headquarters, Councillors backed the proposals by a clear majority.
The Council considered four options including locating all services to Hadleigh, all services to Needham Market, the sharing of accommodation in Endeavour House with Suffolk County Council or a new building for the councils.
The Public Access Strategy sets out the case for change with a focus on improving access and contact to modernised local services for residents and refining the way the Councils work.
The Strategy also sets out the five key access channels for the local community that will be radically improved following the decision which are:
Face to Face
While current offices aren’t easily accessible for the public who live some distance from the offices, recommendations before Councillors will ensure one access point in each district is established ensuring the public can have a better quality ‘face to face’ interaction with the council.
While telephone contact continues to be the most common access for the public there is confusion with too many numbers and rising costs. The proposals will see one main phone number, charged at a local rate, channelled through a customer contact centre.
There will be the creation and promotion of a single email address for the Councils, handled by the Customer Contact Centre ensuring a better quality service especially in terms of response times.
Online – Digital Services
With a growing number of residents conducting much of their household business online (i.e. banking, bill payment, shopping etc.) there is a growing demand for better online services. The proposals include a development of one new clearer and simpler website which will include new arrangements to view and comment on planning applications.
Webchat and SMS
‘Webchat’ is an online service that allows the public to speak to organisations while they are using other digital services. Proposals include making webchat available to the public as well as the development of SMS text messaging via the customer relationship management system.