Dublin Mid-West Sinn Féin Councillors Derren Ó Brádaigh and William Carey have welcomed the news at the decision by South Dublin County Council to reverse the curtailment of customer care walk-in services after just one week.
Speaking recently on learning the news, Cllr Ó Brádaigh said “The decision to reopen the council’s customer care desk in the afternoons between 2pm – 4pm will come as very good news to so many of the council’s own customers. This recent decision to curtail the busy walk-in service came as a surprise to many, including members of the public, staff and customers alike. However, after just one week, the original opening hours are now to be restored this morning on the instruction of the Chief Executive.
“In recent weeks, both my colleague Cllr Carey and I issued a statement on learning of the sudden decision to drastically reduce the customer care service desk from 4 hours per day to just 2 hours in the morning from 10am – 12pm. As we know, there have been gradual moves to digitalise council services online and whilst technological advances can help some services to be more efficient, this is not always the case and particularly when so often, the requests coming in are urgent or not always easily explained through a portal service.
“Some weeks ago, I wrote back to council management in response to a question submitted regarding housing maintenance requests. Unfortunately, council tenants are now being directed to use an online portal system to submit requests for housing maintenance issues. A dedicated email is offered to people experiencing difficulties, however I don’t see the logic in this for anyone struggling to use an online based service in the first instance! In my correspondence with council management, I highlighted the ever-increasing number of our customers that are faced with literacy challenges, dyslexia, physical and mental disabilities, non-English speakers and all those people restricted by working hours.
“It is essential that we always remain cognisant to the significant number of people dependent on a one-to-one service, that delivers the type of human contact interaction necessary in so many circumstances. We know that restricted literacy is heavily concentrated among older groups and lower income groups and those most needing our assistance. Management have cited the high levels of digital literacy in the population in response, and in rationalising moves to online services. However, there is no definitive evidence in this regard. By the end of last week, the queues in the Clondalkin offices had simply doubled in the mornings, and I understand that customers were continuing to arrive to a closed customer care desk at County Hall in Tallaght in the afternoons.”