June 9, 2022 5.30 pm

Highways in focus as post-pandemic county council complaints surge

Delays in services a key factor

Complaints to Lincolnshire County Council surged by more than a quarter, with a focus on the state of the county’s highways, as the country came out of lockdown and began its COVID-19 recovery.

Data before the authority’s Audit Committee next Monday showed that in 2021/22 the council had 1,678 contacts from the public expressing dissatisfaction – an increase of 26%.

The Corporate and Statutory Complaints Annual Report showed that of those, 1,231 went into the formal complaints process – a rise of 67% – with the rest being resolved through early resolution.

“As restrictions resulting from the pandemic have been eased, services are seeing a return in most areas to pre-pandemic delivery levels,” said the report.

“This has had its own challenges. […] As a result of the figures, and as mentioned earlier in this report, it is vital that a renewed focus be placed on early resolution of concerns.”

A chart showing a comparison of the overall complaints. | Image: LCC

According to the documents, 45% of complaints were either fully or partially upheld.

The area with the highest number of complaints was the council’s Highways and Transport department which saw a 179% increase in formal complaints.

The authority received 848 initial contacts about the county’s roads with 597 going on to enter the formal complaints process.

49% of those cases were either upheld or partially upheld with the majority of faults being found due to delays in or lack of maintenance, followed by the poor quality of repairs and staff conduct and attitude.

A pie chart showing the breakdown of faults. | Image: LCC

Elsewhere in the report, children’s services reportedly received 257 complaints, of which 195 went into formal complaints – a 3% increase. Around  40% of complaints were upheld with the majority to do with delays or lack of communication.

Household Waste Recycling Centres saw an 8% increase in formal complaints with 192 of the 250 contacts moving forward. Just 36% were upheld, with most to do with staff conduct and attitude and some residual complaints around the old booking system.

Adult Care and Community Wellbeing services saw an 11% increase with 234 contacts received and 188 entering the formal complaints process.

However, it maintained a similar number compared to previous years in terms of informal resolutions of complaints. 44% of complaints were upheld in some form with the majority to do with financial assessments and charge accounts followed by concerns around needs assessments and delays in service.