FINDING a council phone number is quote straight forward. Go to Essex County Council website and you will find: 03457 430436. Go to Harlow Council website and there it is, 01279 446657.
But then there is Thurrock Council. The other day, former Thurrock MP, Andrew Mackinlay wanted to ring the council. He went on to the website and searched away but, in his words "Could’t find the blasted thing".
This became a bit of a bug bear for Mr Mackinlay and so he e-mailed the council and asked them about the number.
Thurrock Council replied:
"Thank you for contacting us about the availability of telephone numbers on Thurrock Council’s website.
We are sorry for any concern caused to you, and other residents, who prefer to contact council departments by phone yet do not find direct telephone numbers on the website. The contact details we publish has been determined by our need to make significant budget savings over the past five years.
Since 2010/11, the cut to our government grant support, like-for-like, has been equivalent to Â£39.5 million – more than 60%. So far the council has minimised the impact of these reductions on frontline services, but at the same time we have had to encourage the use of web services wherever possible over more traditional and costly services such as face-to-face and telephone. When more people use information and services online we can better target face-to-face and telephone support towards those for whom online self-service is not always possible.
The main council phone number was removed from our ‘Contact us’ page last year because whilst the council had made more services and information available via its website, we were finding a significant percentage of web users were entering the site at the contact page and leaving again without checking whether the service or the answer to their question was already online.
We include ‘Comments and questions’ and ‘Request a service’ links to contact forms on the right-side of every information page for our services, and we include telephone numbers on around 200 web pages for services where direct telephone support is available. Simple forms asking ‘How can we make this page easier to use?’ are also included on information pages, so residents can suggest ways in which the online service itself can be improved – many feedback suggestions have already been put into practice.
"We are sorry you felt the website was not user-friendly. If there are particular online services you found unfriendly, or any information pages you found to be unclear, then please let us know so we can work to make the necessary improvements".
There you have it….For your information, the number is 01375 652 652……