Residents left hanging on the phone following Brent Council’s move to £90m civic centre

Residents are left hanging on the phone

Residents are left hanging on the phone - Credit: Archant

Residents have been left hanging on the phone while trying to contact Brent Council since its move to the £90m civic centre.

Callers have taken to social networking site Twitter to air their anger at the length of time they are kept on hold before being connected to the relevant department.

One tweet said: “Strange fact – since moving to the new Town Hall – no one ever answers their phones at Brent Council. Is there anyone there?”

The Times called the council five times, with the length of the shortest call before being connected ranging from four minutes for council tax inquiries to 14 minutes for waste and recycling.

According to Ofcom figures, the cost of that call for a resident using a landline would have been about £1.40, before any conversation began.

Cllr Alison Hopkins, the Lib Dem councillor for Dollis Hill, said the council’s telephone system should be overhauled.

“To my mind calls should be answered within a minute at most, if you are trying to get through with a serious problem or in a lunch hour trying to sort something out.

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“If you are a person with not a lot of money you may be using a pay as you go phone and not have a contract.”

She added that the prolonged waiting times can be attributed to the voice recognition system not being 100 per cent effective, resulting in calls being diverted to the switchboard.

“The staff are getting just as frustrated about it,” she said.

“It’s very bad for residents and it’s pretty bad for staff who bear the brunt of residents getting furious and frustrated.

“Let’s acknowledge we have a problem.”

A Brent Council spokesman denied the voice recognition system was not effective, saying it worked as long as a caller spoke clearly.

He added: “We answer all telephone calls received from customers as quickly as possible.

“However, during peak times callers may be held in a queue before they speak to a customer service officer.

“They can also email their inquiry to customer.services@brent.gov.uk.

“However, we do encourage customers to ring outside of the peak times, which are Mondays and mid mornings, if at all possible.”