Opposition Blasts Council for Missed Targets

Ealing behind on recycling, flytipping and answering the phone

Cllr Gary Malcolm castigates the council for the latest performance report
Cllr Gary Malcolm castigates the council for the latest performance report

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January 21, 2024

The opposition Liberal Democrats are claiming that Ealing Council is failing to meet residents’ expectations after the publication of report on its performance.

The quarterly report by council officers, which was presented to the cabinet this Wednesday (17 January) shows that the borough is underperforming on 28% of key performance indicators for targets it has set itself.

The thirteen areas of underperformance are spread across several departments, but the opposition has focused on ‘double reds’ in areas where the report shows multiple shortfalls including in waste and recycling and contact with the public.

For the second quarter of FY2023/24, Ealing’s recycling rate was a 48.9% below the 53% target which the opposition says is the latest outcome in a long series of underperformance in this area with little improvement over the last five years.

However, the council says that the target is ambitious and by last September it had reached a recycling rate of 52% with further improvement expected.

The report states, “The Covid pandemic led to changes in waste volumes and composition, and whilst we are seeing a recovery, there is still improvement to be made to achieve pre-pandemic levels and further encourage waste reduction, reuse and recycling. The council’s Reduction and Recycling Plan 2023-25 and work around the circular economy will continue to improve recycling rates with measures including rolling out the food waste service to flats, increasing participation in recycling services (particularly food waste), reduction in contamination of dry mixed recycling, etc.”

The council have also failed to get fly tips cleared within the target time with only 88% removed on schedule against an objective of 95%. The report says that work is underway to clear up reported fly tips and improvement is expected in the next quarter.

74% of residents who had need to get in touch with the council were satisfied with their contact, against the expected 80%. The council says that service teams are met with on a regular basis to discuss service gaps and opportunities to enhance service delivery. It is also carrying out targeted interventions in areas where residents were not satisfied, which it hopes will result in a better overall satisfaction rate over the rest of the year.

The council says that customer services are closely monitoring telephone answering performance, where the council has missed its target for answering calls within 5 minutes, with a view to improve response times while maintaining the quality of service provided and that performance is expected to improve in the coming months.

The target for the percentage of young offenders engaged in suitable education, training or employment (ETE) is 87% but in the latest quarter this was only at 67.9%

The council has a dedicated Connexions advisor allocated to all children who are not in ETE during their order to work alongside the child to identify all appropriate opportunities. It has also just received £5,000 from the Violence Reduction Unit to help set up mentoring and tutoring for those children who are not fully engaged in school and a staff member has been seconded into the Employee Assistance Programme to support children at an earlier stage to keep their interest and enthusiasm in education. The performance report states that a recent Ofsted inspection identified that the borough’s ETE offer is very strong and by the end of October 2023, the council was at 100% of young offenders in EET.

Other areas where there has been a shortfall in performance is the number of households in temporary accommodation which is currently above the target of 2,500 at 2,610. The council says that this is in line with the pressures seen across London due to rising private rented sector costs and reduced supply. The council has started a Homelessness Prevention and Housing Solutions Programme Board which will address the issues of temporary accommodation supply and determine a sustainable delivery model to address this. A Temporary Accommodation Strategy is hoped to begin delivering improvement from the fourth quarter of 2023/2024 and into 24/25.

The percentage of council tax collected so far for this year is also behind schedule with only 54.5% brought in compared to 57.2% expected. This shortfall equates to £6.128m which was the total sum awarded in energy rebates in 2022/23 to help residents with the impact of cost-of-living crisis. The amount of tax collected in the first 6 months of 2023/24 has increased when compared to the same period last year, and additional recovery action taken against nonpayers is expected to help hit the target by the end of the year.

Councillor Gary Malcolm , the Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition, said, “Liberal Democrats are challenging Ealing Labour to outline clear action plans to address residents’ concerns including picking up the phone to residents and addressing the large amount of fly-tipping and encouraging households to recycle more of their waste. Liberal Democrats want to see a clean and safe Ealing where the Council listens. Ealing Labour are failing on all those fronts.”

A council spokesperson said, “We are working hard to meet our targets with plans in place to improve performance. This includes a recent upgrade to our telephone network which will rectify issues impacting our call quality.

"When we experience longer than average wait times residents are offered a call back, these are completed on the same working day with the majority within 1 hour.

"There are also options for residents to contact and transact with the council though our customer portal, with the website also offering information and advice. This service is 24/7.

"Residents are also able to visit our customer hubs, located in Acton, Ealing, Northolt and Southall.”

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