Praise for Council’s efforts during pandemic as it secures customer service excellence

(Excited about this press release as it relates at least partially to my portfolio covering Emergency Planning and Communication at FDC.)

Praise for Council’s efforts during pandemic as it secures customer service excellence

“…it is clearly apparent that Fenland have gone above and beyond in their efforts to maintain services”

Fenland District Council has once again been reaccredited with the Cabinet Office’s prestigious Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Standard following an annual inspection.

An independent CSE assessor said the Council has continued to meet the gold standard for customer service delivery, and gone “over and above” in its efforts to maintain services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Following a remote assessment in June, assessor Neil Potentier awarded reaccreditation of the Standard, which recognises public, private-sector and voluntary bodies that provide excellent, customer-focused services.

He also awarded the Council CSE ‘Compliance Plus’ accreditation in four areas for showing best practice.

In his report, Mr Potentier said despite working to tight budgets, the Council has continued to deliver excellent customer focused services thanks to the “tremendous resolve of staff who always strive to put the customer at the heart of everything”.

He added: “Councils are by their very nature required to interact with wider communities. However, with the onset of COVID-19 it is clearly apparent that Fenland have gone above and beyond in their efforts to maintain services. It is also clearly apparent that Fenland managed the COVID-19 situation extremely well. There was the potential for a significant dip in performance, but Fenland prevented this through the actions they have taken.”

The assessment report also noted the following strengths:

  • How the Council had utilised and extended consultation using social media platforms
  • The success and effectiveness of a dedicated COVID-19 Response Hub, with deployment of staff from across the workforce to facilitate it
  • The empowerment and use of staff insight in delivering and improving services
  • Many customer access channels to enable residents to access services, including during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Partnering arrangements remain strong with a wide range of partners working with the Council resulting in demonstrable benefits for customers and communities

Councillor Chris Boden, Leader of Fenland District Council and Cabinet member responsible for financial and performance management, said: “I am delighted that the Council has retained its Customer Service Excellence Standard. Fenland is one of the few councils that has consistently achieved this rigorous standard for all of its services, both customer facing and internal, not just individual ones.

“The CSE assessor was highly complementary of the Council’s emphasis on continuing to deliver excellent customer focused services, especially in light of the current COVID-19 restrictions. This is testament to the hard work and commitment from Council staff and Members in putting the people we serve at the heart of everything we do.”

Moving forward, the Council is keen to explore new ways of working which maximise available technology, such as more contactless services, to be ready for the ‘new normal’ post COVID-19 and further improve customer experience.

Lovely Gesture

Lovely Gesture

It was really nice today, while out doing our shopping for vulnerable people in North Ward / Waterlees, to be given these lovely gifts for Sam Samantha HoyAigars Balsevics and I.

There was no need to do this as we have enjoyed helping over the last few months, and its been great to meet so many people, but thank you so much for the incredibly kind gesture.


The Most Awful Lies Ever Told About Me

The Most Awful Lies Ever Told About Me

Please see below the full statement from the FDC Legal Team and Senior Officers on behalf of the Council, which demonstrates what a terrible and outright lie has been told about me.

My own statement:

This is the worst thing anybody has ever tried to do to me. I am still stunned that somebody would completely make up a story and spread such awful lies. I did not realise people could be so awful. I can only speculate as to who else might have been involved and what sort of unpleasant individual would think this was okay.

I don’t know why this gentleman decided to do this. I have barely had any interactions with him. But I have taken legal advice and will be proceeding as advised against both the originator of these awful lies and the people who shared them.

Thank you to all my friends for your support. It would have been so much worse if people had believed these lies and it has been a blessing to see that my many friends not only did not believe – but were angry on my behalf. Thank you.

The Socially Distant Blog Post

The Socially Distant Blog Post

Writing this simply because I have some limited free time and thought I should update the blog.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working with Sam Hoy (and others) covering Wisbech and the surrounding villages (Leverington, Tydd St Giles, Elm, Friday Bridge and others) as volunteers with Fenland District Council.  We are running errands, shopping and picking up medication for elderly and/or vulnerable individuals who have no other support and need urgent help during the Covid-19 Crisis.

Initially it was very hard work, as it was just Sam and I covering the entire Wisbech area on behalf of the FDC line.  We managed to keep up, but it was a struggle on occasion as calls were literally flooding in.  It was quite upsetting as some of these people were very frightened and in panic mode and some were absolutely desperate.  The “normal” routes of care struggle when everybody is overwhelmed with fear and you lose huge swathes of your regular volunteers and carers to isolation and illness.

It was disappointing to see a local newspaper invent a completely false story and present a narrative that had little bearing on the truth.  But I guess even in a pandemic a leopard doesn’t change its spots.  It was also disappointing to see some opposition types looking to invent a story where one did not exist, but luckily that was quickly closed down by clear guidance from the very top in the virus response team at regional level.

Nevertheless, as the situation has progressed things have got better.  More volunteers have come on board.  The work done by other groups like 50 Backpacks and the Red Cross have been exceptional.  County Council has been delivering emergency food packages to many vulnerable people too.  All these different streams of help have been coming together and finding the best ways to support one another and work.

During all this i’ve had several jobs.  As Portfolio holder for Communication at FDC i’ve been making sure lots of information is pushed out with regular press releases.  I’m working directly with senior officers to do everything we can to make sure people have easy access to help when they need it and all the *accurate* information to help them.  I’ve also been trying to encourage people to stay calm,  The Covid 19 virus is a horrible one and it is certainly dangerous, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable  People should follow Government guidance, stay safe and stay calm.  Fear is also a killer, and this is obvious by what volunteers are seeing when they are out helping vulnerable people.  Caution and care is vital, scaremongering is unhelpful.  Getting the balance right is important.

Presently I am spending about 11 hours on most free days going back and forth to shops, chemists etc helping people who have no other support.  All of this is done with maximum precautions for those who we are helping – 2m distance at all times.  Hands washed before and after every visit.  Following the most stringent protocols for every person we visit, exactly as instructed from those running the operations at the highest regional level.  It’s a long day and its sad to see how utterly terrified some folks are.  I wish there was more that we could do to help them.

Lots of other volunteers have joined the team now.  We have FACT working in many areas and regular folks are also helping their own elderly and vulnerable neighbours.  It’s a tough time, but I feel we will get through it working together.

I hope all my readers are well and safe.  If you need help in Fenland call 01354 654321 for the Fenland Helpline.  You are not alone.

No Incinerator says Wisbech Town Council

No Incinerator says Wisbech Town Council

Very pleased to notify you all that tonight, at the special meeting of Full Council (Wisbech Town Council) my motion opposing the incinerator was passed unanimously.

This means its now been passed at FDC (nearly unanimously) and at WTC (unanimously.)

Just got to get it through County now and we will have a hat trick of local Councils committed to opposing this awful incinerator.

Thanks to all Councillors that have supported it so far, from all political persuasions. Stand Together!