Abuse claims at county one-stop shop

SUFFOLK'S pioneering one-stop shop for public services has been hit by allegations of resentment and abusive behaviour.

SUFFOLK'S pioneering one-stop shop for public services has been hit by allegations of resentment and abusive behaviour.

A shock report by consultants found that county council staff could be rude and abusive to their colleagues seconded to Customer Service Direct(CSD), a joint venture between BT, Mid Suffolk and the county council.

CSD has been operating for five years, providing front office help for the public including benefits, student support advice and adult social care.

One of the main objectives of the operation - which employs 835 people, of which 775 are county council staff - is to provide members of the public who telephoned the councils with one point of contact rather than being passed between departments.

Staff were seconded from the county and Mid Suffolk to work in the organisation but PA Consulting Group, which was commissioned to report on how CSD was working, found “a level of mistrust” by county council employees towards the new organisation.

PA Consulting said there was a reluctance within the county council to recognise CSD's contribution and impact, which it lays at the door of senior managers.

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“The county council did not robustly communicate and promote the benefits of the venture to its own staff,” said the report. There is a level of negative sentiment towards CSD within the county council.”

The report added there was a “level of mistrust” despite all the employees being council staff.

Graham Dixon, the county's director of resource management, said: “CSD has enabled us to make numerous positive changes to the way we work so that we can deliver improved services for the people of Suffolk.

“It is disappointing that some of the people interviewed for this report felt that the relationship was not working as well as it might, but their open views have led to a detailed action plan which is now being implemented by all three partners, and will improve the relationship still further.”

Do you work at CSD? What's your view on the report's findings? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk