Monday, 24 November 2014

Putting our customers at heart of all we do

Last week, I visited our Highways Customer Service Hub, located at our Call Centre in Durban Road, Bognor Regis.

I have been waiting for some time to make this visit as much work has been going on over the last few months, in the background, to move our Highways to the very front of customer focused service, apologies if this sound full of jargon.
However I am forever conscious that the Council Tax you pay does deliver good outcomes and good service – put simply that means the resident should be to the forefront in all we do.

As I have said there has been considerable work in the background analysing how we handle complaints, queries and delivered highways repairs and we realised that what we were doing was far from a streamlined service. Residents being passed from one person to another and often not getting a timely update or response – and more importantly we knew residents weren’t too happy either! So we had to improve the way we worked. And of course that has represented a bit of a cultural change, but one that was very necessary.

So our Customer Service Hub, which opened on the 1st October, is made up of a range of people from various disciplines, Contact Centre Staff, Balfour Beatty, Intelligent Transport Team, and officers from our Highways depots all into one team to respond quickly and efficiently to all your calls.

Working together staff can identify trends and issues in an area, sharing knowledge which provides anyone calling in with more information. What is known as ‘once and done’, (enquiries dealt with on the first contact by the customer and to the customer's satisfaction) so our aim is you will not be waiting for us to get back to you or worst still having to chase us.

Although still in early phase we are certainly seeing an improvement  in the once and done statistics – but we know we have to do more.

Our  Customer Services Hub’s operating hours start at 8am until 6pm supported by split shift working. This now provides  10 extra man hours support to the you the resident/customer each week.

As we live in an age of Social Media   our Twitter (@WSHighways) is there also as service to the resident as a two way communication.   

It was a really informative and useful visit and it was a real delight to see the considerable background work and thought that has gone into developing the Customer Service Hub model now a working reality.

The dedicated team members were busy handling calls, talking to residents during my visit and I was impressed.

We are still in the settling in phase and as we know the Winter weather can cause serious disruption to our Highways so we are coming into a very testing time, but this new approach has been designed to provide a good customer service and  we are committed to doing so.


Louise Goldsmith.
Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division.

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Taking the fight for A27 improvements to Westminster

Yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon I caught the train to London to join MPs Nick Herbert, Tim Loughton and Peter Bottomley at a meeting with Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport.

Once again, we were putting the case for substantial investment in the A27, dualling east to west through the county.

We are coming ever closer to when the Government makes its announcement on infrastructure commitments across the country – expected in early December -  and we will continue to make our case for the A27 to be on that list right up until the announcement .

Since we became aware that the Department for Transport was preparing a feasibility study of the A27 we have been putting the case for investment in the A27, which has been the Cinderella of road investment and improvements for too long.

Our A27 Action Campaign has brought together so many people, MPs, local county, district, town and parish councillors as well as businesses, small and large, and residents. It has been terrific to have such support from so many sectors of our community.

We’ve even had a local business come forward and make us a film for free – such is their enthusiasm for the campaign and the need to get the government to take notice of this vital trunk road. You can see the video here and thank you to Robert Goldsmith (no relation!) of Dream Vision Media for doing it for us.

So what happens next? Well the announcement is due early December and the A27 Action will continue right up to the day. I really hoping that all the work on the business case and support from so many will be recognised. Fingers crossed!




Louise Goldsmith.
Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division.

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Monday, 10 November 2014

We Will Remember Them

Like many others I stood on Sunday, in the unusually warm November sun at the War Memorial, while we remembered the many who gave their lives for our freedoms and homeland security.

Remembrance Day is always important but never more so than this year which marks the 100 year anniversary of the start of the 1st World War. So many young men joined up to fight and people hoped and believed it would all be over by Christmas but, sadly, it was good few more Christmases and very many more lives lost and damaged before the end.

In an earlier blog I wrote about one of the ways WSCC has marked the start of the 1st World War with a fascinating book Great War of Britain West Sussex Remembering 1914-18 which gives an insight into the impact of the war in West Sussex from mobilisation and recruitment, the Home Front, and the changing role for women. This war and its aftermath was the start of so many changes for society.

Our Records Office has been very busy this year with many people making enquiries and finding out more about their family histories.

Last week I attended an assembly at Funtington Primary School and it was so good to see how children were learning about this time in history from making their own poppies to creating their own words and music about the First World War.  It was touching and inspiring in equal measures.  

So, this 100th year has helped so many to connect in many ways to our past, to remember the enormous sacrifices that many people made not only in that war but the many other wars since then.

We live in a democratic society, with great freedoms, where we are able to speak out, to vote – it is something we take for granted but any threats to our freedoms and homeland security have been fought and won by brave service personnel and we owe them a debt of gratitude. We will remember them.   


Louise Goldsmith.

Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division

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