Monday, March 4, 2024

New Freephone service for housing repairs

Thurrock Housing’s new Freephone number for residents and leaseholders to report housing repairs went live on Monday 3 September.

The new number 0800 074 0169 can be used to report all repairs, urgent and non-urgent. This service will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was implemented following feedback from our residents who wanted more cost effective and efficient ways to report repairs.

Cllr Val Morris-Cook, Portfolio Holder for Housing at Thurrock Council said: “I am confident that this new Freephone service will give more security and assurance to our residents and this resource goes hand in hand with a number of other changes we are currently considering, to raise the quality and standard of our service”.

“We already provide a dedicated telephone service for rent enquiries. PayPoints have been introduced across the borough which have significantly increased the number of sites where rent can be paid. The council will be implementing the option to pay rent by direct debit later this year”


  1. Nice to see that Councillors do sometimes take note of questions raised by Members of the Public. I questioned Cllr Morris-Cook at a Meeting of the Full Council held on 20th Jube, 2012 which I print below.
    You are a seasoned questioner Mr Perrin let’s have question number 1.
    Councillor Morris-Cook please respond to the question submitted by Mr
    1. From Mr Peter Perrin to Councillor Morris-Cook, Portfolio Holder
    for Housing
    Mr P Perrin
    Thank you Mr Mayor. I am going to read the question for the benefit of
    the people in the public gallery who don’t have copies of the agenda.
    “Could you please explain why you have transferred responsibility for
    requests for repairs to Council rented housing from Council Officers to
    the tenants, who now have to deal directly with contractors, such as
    Councillor V Morris-Cook
    Yes I can. Thank you Mr Perrin, first of all apologies for being late but I
    have had rather a large needle put into the heel of my foot which is
    extremely painful at the moment, so apologies for being late.
    Yes, repair requests are now filtered through the Council’s central call
    centre in order really to get a better control of the flow of repairs to
    Council contractors. This has resulted in better diagnostics of repairs
    and has allowed the Council to hold the contractors to account more
    clearly.Basically, what we are doing is moving on from that, we are having a
    specialist area within the call centre which specifically works for
    housing and understands housing repairs, so we can get much, much
    better detail to the contractors to understand exactly what the problem is and I understand your concern that a lot of people have had to wait
    a considerable time to have their calls answered and to be honest we
    have now got another member of staff that is working within there,
    within Serco, so they will actually understand and take those calls in a
    more timely manner, and also something that has also been highlighted
    is the fact of cost to the possible resident and I can let you know that
    within a month there will be a freephone number that council tenants
    can call that will go directly through
    Mr Perrin, do you wish to pose a supplementary question.
    Mr P Perrin
    Yes please, Mr Mayor. I am pleased that the Councillor acknowledges
    that it is neither right nor fair to burden tenants with the cost of reporting
    and arranging appointments for repairs and maintenance for their
    council rented homes. The plan to allow the council call centre
    telephone number to be used free of charge by tenants from their
    landline home telephones is welcome.
    However, speaking from my own experience, call centres are not high
    on the general public’s popularity list. I presume we have all
    experienced the frustration of a continuously ringing or engaged call, or
    having to press a series of numbers to access appropriate options, or
    being placed on indefinite hold to be periodically told that the call centre
    is very busy, please hold as your call is very important to them, taking
    no account that the caller may also be very busy, and finally frustration
    of being connected to a call centre located in a far distant land such as
    India with an operator speaking English with an accent that is barely
    Would you, Councillor Morris-Cook, as the portfolio holder responsible
    for repairs to council rented houses endeavour to ensure that this call
    centre will be fit for purpose, user friendly, located locally, and will incur
    no cost to the tenant. As an extra regarding ….
    Is that a question Mr Perrin?
    Councillor V Morris-Cook
    Yes, I’ve got the question.
    Mr P Perrin
    regarding cost, would you confirm that mobile phone users will
    have to pay for their calls to the call centre?
    OK, Councillor Morris-Cook please.
    Councillor Morris-Cook
    Yes, by organising and I do understand because in order to improve
    the service, you can’t improve the service unless you can measure the
    outcome and by doing what we are doing and having specific people
    taking the calls for the contractor, we can actually measure how long it
    actually takes to answer a call, how long the call is, and the quality of
    the call, so, it enables us to measure the efficiency of that. So yes, we
    obviously will and more than happy for you to come, and you haven’t
    got to get on a plane, you can come right here to Thurrock Council and
    go and see it working live in action if you would like to.
    I’m not one hundred per cent sure, I think mobile calls are charged, I
    think it is only a land line that will be free, but if you want to go and
    have a look, I’m sure that Barbara would organise a little visit for you”

    I would be most interested to know the views of people using the “call centre”. Had it resulted in a faster more efficient repairs service, were calls answered promptly and were appointments met?
    Contact me by telephone 01708 404022, email


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