A new role bringing council services out to the city’s communities seven days a week is proving an instant hit.
The Field Officer team becomes fully operational from 3 December. This follows an initial bedding-in period which began in September and allowed us to test and refine how the new service works.
A report to the Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities & Equalities committee on 3 December gives an update on what’s happened so far.
The service has been developed to work closely with communities and partners, and the team act as troubleshooters to deliver co-ordinated, fast and effective enforcement and inspection work across a number of council services. These include environmental health, housing, planning enforcement, community safety, seafront services and parks.
A key feature is working within and with our communities to promote a more proactive and preventative way of working to resolve issues efficiently and effectively. The service will be reviewed regularly to make sure it’s meeting community and service needs, resource, and seasonal demands.
While it’s still early days, the service is already showing real benefits.
The Field Officer team working between 12 noon and 8pm seven days a week allows them to visit residents at home to discuss complaints and identify quick solutions.
It also allows information and intelligence to be gathered out-of-hours on more complex cases, which can help resolve them more speedily.
And early face-to-face communication has meant the team can deal with cases quickly, reducing the number of protracted cases and leading to greater customer satisfaction. It also means the Field Officers can look out for vulnerabilities and make fast referrals to the appropriate agencies and support services.
The team has received a lot of positive feedback about the speed of the response.
A ward councillor who reported an issue with rubbish scattered around a recycling point commented: “The two Field Officers that were on duty on Saturday morning performed their duties admirably. Please thank them.”
A resident disturbed by noise from builders wrote: “I confess I pinged my email more in irritation than expectation, so I was delighted to learn that the Field Officer visited the flat in question on Monday. Brilliant service.”
One of the duties the team will be taking over in December is a new weekend out-of-hours noise nuisance service, aiming to provide a safer and more effective response than the current weekend service.
From 7 December, residents will be able to email or phone in noise complaints on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, and will be contacted the following morning with the offer of a visit that day. This allows face-to-face dialogue immediately following an incident and an environment where the impact of a disturbance can be properly discussed and, hopefully, stopped.
Councillor Emma Daniel, chair of the Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities & Equalities committee, said:
“Introducing the Field Officers is a key part of our work taking council services out to our communities and a great example of how collaborating with residents and partners can help us to deliver better services.
“Setting up a new service from scratch has given us the opportunity to explore new ways of working and understand how we can work more closely with our partners and communities and share resource to deliver effective and efficient services.
“We’ve recruited a team who, as well as expertise in enforcement and inspection, can engage and work effectively with the diverse communities in the city and encourage residents to get involved and work together to improve the quality of life for everyone.”
“I’m really proud of the positive impact the team has already had, and am excited to see the improvements when the service launches fully.”
The role is part of the Communities & Neighbourhood modernisation programme, looking at improving the way council services work with communities and making the most effective use of resources.
The full report on the proposals is available in the papers for the 3 December 2018 Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities & Equalities committee.