The hour and a half wait for Sunderland Council to answer the phone
Campaigners on Wearside are calling on Sunderland Council to improve its call handling service after some residents wait over an hour and a half to get through to an operator.
An investigation by the Liberal Democrats has found that Sunderland City Council is one of the worst in the country for answering the phone to residents, with one caller waiting over an hour and a half for their call to be answered.
Figures unveiled by the party showed that one caller to the Council waited 98 minutes before their call was answered. Another resident was kept on hold for 83 minutes, with the third longest call to the Council waiting 75 minutes before they were connected to an operator.
The figures come from calls made to the city council between 1st April 2015 and 31st March 2016. Of the councils surveyed by the Liberal Democrats, Sunderland City Council had the fourth longest waiting times.
Commenting, Lib Dem campaigner for Pennywell and South Hylton Stephen O’Brien said:
"It’s just not on that people are waiting over an hour to speak to the council – many residents tell me that they give up and hang up before they ever get through to anyone.
“I appreciate that the Council provides information and services online and in person at places like libraries, for many elderly or vulnerable residents contacting the Council by telephone is the only way to get issues like flytipping and potholes reported or to get answers to their questions. It is vital that the Council doesn’t leave people hanging on the telephone for hours.”
Lib Dem party leader Tim Farron MP commented:
“People shouldn’t be kept hanging on the end of a phone for hours on end simply to talk to their local council – it is outrageous. Councils have to get the basics right and I hope those making their residents wait for such long periods to talk to someone will look at this and put things right. “
Notes to editors:
A photo is attached: Pennywell and South Hylton Lib Dem campaigner Stephen O’Brien
The Liberal Democrats asked councils across the country for the three longest waiting times for calls to be answered between April 2015 and March 2016. Sunderland Council was the fourth worst. For more details contact Liberal Democrat Press Office on 0207 340 4949.