Pensioners in East London have been unable to access parking permits for the past three years due to the council’s “disastrous” customer service, a councillor said.
At a Tower Hamlets overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Monday (November 28), Cllr Marc Francis said lots of OAPs have been forgotten about in the borough.
“The experience has been really, really disastrous, I have constituents still coming to me today, pensioners who can’t get parking permits – still today, three years later, they are still coming to me and saying that,” he told the room.
“They’re actually entitled to continue having paper scratch cards, but they don’t know it as nobody has told them.”
Cllr Francis said he raised this issue with the committee more than a year ago but nothing had improved.
He added: “When we asked this in the committee more than a year ago, we raised it with the CEO and said, ‘Can you please reach out to all of those people that were previously in receipt of free parking, pensioners getting free parking, to let them know that they can get a scratch card’.
“It’s just never been done, nothing’s been done about that at all.”
He also revealed that some councillors have been taking on the task of having to fill out application forms, such as medical assessments and housing benefits, on behalf of their constituents when it is the responsibility of other council employees.
Cllr Francis said: “It’s ridiculous, we are supposed to be here to make a strategic contribution to the running of this authority, instead we will do this because that is what we do.
“It is an abuse of us to replace council employees and make us do it instead on behalf of our constituents, it’s just not acceptable.”
Cllr Francis said he welcomes improvements to the customer service sector as the current model is “unsustainable”.
Raj Chand, director of customer services at Tower Hamlets said the sector is working on improvements to deliver a better service to residents
Addressing points raised at the meeting, she replied: “This is about looking at customer’s journeys from end-to-end.
“We are constantly looking at technology, we are constantly looking at where can we utilise technology to improve the services that we are delivering to our residents, regardless of what channel.”
She continued: “We all know we’ve got the youngest [population] in Tower Hamlets so we need to make sure technology-wise we are keeping up with that.
“A lot of our residents that are of that age group expect us to deliver services in a digital way, but equally we have to be conscious that we have digital exclusion in the borough as well.”