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No one complained about them for six months… but did Orkney Islands Council get everything right or was it just a glitch?

Orkney Islands Council's headquarters in Kirkwall. Picture by Sandy McCook
Orkney Islands Council's headquarters in Kirkwall. Picture by Sandy McCook

Orkney Islands Council didn’t receive a single complaint between April and September this year, the local authority has revealed.

But before staff start popping the Champagne corks, they’ve first got to confirm that’s because they knocked it out the park… and not because of an administrative glitch.

Council officers reported that zero complaints were made between April and September 30, 2021.

The only answer suggested is that it may have something to do with Covid restrictions easing and council services returning to normal.

Drastic drop

During a meeting of the council’s development and infrastructure meeting, committee members were presented with a report on performance monitoring which showed that the number of complaints received by the development and infrastructure department dropped to a grand total of nil.

The previous six-month period had seen 19 received and the six months before that saw 10.

Presenting the report, the council’s interim director of environmental, property and IT services Hayley Green said: “Obviously, any drop in complaints is to be welcomed but we have looked at this in some detail – a drop we were expecting, but not necessarily a drop down to zero.

“We have been checking to make sure that all complaints officers are still aware of recording complaints and that is the case.

“We did wonder – although we have no reason to suggest this is evidence basis for the drop to zero – as to whether or not this could be linked to the end of Covid restrictions and more services opening up and people seeing things back to the way they were pre-Covid.

“However, whether or not that would show a drop to zero, I’m not entirely certain.

“All we can do at this stage is record what we’ve seen and to confirm and give an assurance to members that we’re looking at this in more detail and we’ve reminded staff about logging complaints.

“Whether it’s a reassurance or not, the current period does show a slight increase in complaints coming through.

“I think the system is working but quite why we had a drop down to zero in those six months is quite difficult to say and we can’t evidence it.”

The number of compliments has plunged too

The number of compliments the department received also saw a drastic drop going from 594 in the six months leading up to March 31 this year down to 54 in the six months after, up to September 30.

However, Ms Green said the previous period’s number was to do with “the fantastic service delivered across the council particularly in the very poor winter conditions that we had at the end of the previous reporting period”.

She said: “Complaints have therefore been seen to drop but that was an incredibly high baseline and we weren’t expecting to remain at over 500 and we’re still very pleased to have had the compliments that we’ve had.”

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