14 September 2021 Council and democracy

Better access to council services 

During the pandemic, council services have been working hard to support the city but access to some council services have been run at a limited capacity due to Covid-19 creating staff shortages, technical restrictions and capacity capabilities. 

As government guidelines have started to relax, we’re trying to ensure inclusive and more consistent access for residents.  

The changes include more consistent times for public phonelines being open and reopening Brighton customer service centre for those that need support contacting us from Monday 27 September 2021. 

Online forms are still the easiest way to contact us 

The easiest way to contact council services will still be through submitting online webforms on our website. 

Filling out the webforms mean that we can capture as much information as possible when first contact is made by residents, this will then reduce the time it takes to deal with each enquiry. 

Webforms have also been designed so that they are accessible and where relevant allow users to attach evidence to accompany enquiries to provide more information. 

We regularly update our website so you can get the right information about our services without having to contact us. 

Emails and phonelines 

Another way to contact council services is through email. Emails that are received will then by triaged to council officers best placed to help with your enquiry. 

Services will work through emails by date order as they are received, but it is still best to contact services through online forms instead of emails if possible, to prevent delay caused by back and forth due to relevant information missing from initial email correspondence. 

We are also embedding more consistency across council services when it comes to contact via phonelines. All main public phonelines will be as a minimum open from 9.30am to 1.30pm from Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).  

In addition, the council switchboard line (01273 290 000) will be open 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays. 

Creating this period enables them to manage workloads and provide a better service across phonelines, emails and responding to webform submissions. 

This is the minimum time that services are expected to provide a live phone line, with many offering longer hours, especially those services in place to support vulnerable people or those in an emergency situation. 

Waiting times on phone lines will be monitored to ensure that they meet the standards set in our Customer Promise of having no more than a 10-minute wait on average. 

We will continue to offer face to face appointments for those services that can’t be provided digitally or via telephone, or where teams believe that digital or telephone support is not appropriate to meet customer needs.

Brighton customer service centre 

We are opening Brighton customer service centre, located at Barts House, Bartholomew Square BN1 1JE, from Monday 27 September for those that need support contacting council services and those that don’t have access to a computer or phone. 

The customer service centre will be open from 9am to 4.30pm from Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) with customer service advisers available to support customers to navigate our digital offer or helping to access council services where needed. 

Hove customer service centre will remain closed, with many services that were provided there now available online and via telephone. To help customers access council services, we will be installing a new free-phone telephone outside Hove Town Hall.

Staff from Hove will help support both staff from Brighton customer service centre and switchboard enquiries where appropriate. 

Committed to improving access to council services 

Councillor Hannah Clare, Deputy Leader of the Council and lead councillor for customer services, said: “We are committed to improving access to council services following this period of unprecedented disruption.  

“I’d like to thank everyone for their patience throughout this time, services haven’t been as easy to reach as we would have liked, and we are working hard to improve this. 

“We are determined to make our services more fair and inclusive across the board and to do this we are making changes to the way services are provided. 

“One of the largest pieces of work we are undertaking is improving digital access to services. 

“This can often be more convenient than having to telephone or visit a council office and we’ve seen a steady rise in the trend of how many people contact us through digital channels.  

“With this now being the most common method used by residents, we are rebalancing our limited resources to ensure we can be responsive to customers contacting us digitally, as well as those who need to telephone us. 

“There are many transactions that people need to carry out that are well suited to being carried out online, so we will continue to work on improvements to these online services to make it easier for customers to get things done at a time that suits them.  

“This will also create additional capacity for us to support those who are unable to contact us digitally.” 

How to access council services 

You can find more details on how to contact council services through our A to Z of council services or phone the council switchboard on 01273 290 000. 

If there is an emergency, call 999 for police, fire, ambulance or the coastguard. 

For help in less urgent situations, use our list of useful emergency contacts

More like this