Councillor's report from Karen Constantine:
"I met with TDC CEO Madeline Homer for a walkabout in Newington recently. Despite the bitter cold the 2.5 hours walk around was a useful exercise. I was able to raise a number of issues with her & another council official Gavin Waite Director for operational services.
These are the points I raised with her Madeline Homer. I will be following these up.
• move the existing adventure playground closer to existing young persons facilities near to the community centre.
• let's have a system for the removal of bulk rubbish items & engage with the local community & third sector group to help the less able to benefit. Allow sufficient time to allow this to bed in.
• discussed the lack of street furniture on the green ways. This would be a nice additional & may well be valued by parents & older residents. It would also be a nice demonstration of council care from TDC. Gavin Waite seemed to think this would be possible & I would be very glad assist in finding the right site.
• our walkabout showed up a lack of round markings on Bush avenue & Melbourne drive. Whilst there have been no accidents here - it would be a good idea in the interests of safety, to add double yellow road markings. I have had complaints about this site.
• the alley we looked at had no street lighting & created a dark & possible unsafe access point between fully occupied residential areas. ( adjacent to the big local facilities )
• a number of people have raised the fact that they cannot hear when calling TDC phones lines. This needs addressing. There are also frequent comments about not getting through.
• street signs also requiring up dating.
• I made Madeleine aware that I hold regular surgeries in addition to the employment surgeries & have offered help to the people in Northwood.
Last but not least I raised the issue of how the council employees sometimes deal with TDC residents. The treatment can be poor. Madeline asked me to prepare an anonymised statement. See below:
I was contacted by a very pleasant sounding women. She was off work on sick leave & it transpired that she had a very serious & potentially life threatening illness. This required time off work ( which is unpaid ) she had both time off for the illness, for operations - 3 so far - & recuperation. She has no entitlement to sick pay. She lives alone. She had been given a very large bill, heart stopping large by accident. After a period time she resolved this - but it caused her extreme worry & anxiety. As it would do to anyone in the same situation. She had called TDC to discuss her concerns & to ask them not to take any action ( should there be a need to - but after the last debt fiasco she was rightly taking no chances. ) She was shocked, saddened & surprised by the attitude of the staff member who she spoke to who she said was rude, seemed hostile, non listening & generally unpleasant. The staff member was also unhelpful. So she needed to involve others to assist her.
It's a great shame that the person on the end of the phone couldn't have 'stood in her shoes' felt her worry & pain. For many of us there is a tipping point that we are all close to. We could easily end up needing support at a time in our lives when we are vulnerable. I would ask the council to reflect a culture of dignity & compassion. This would be professional."