Phone callers to Fenland Hall told it could take longer for council to pick up as part of £123,000 cost saving measures

Fenland Hall, County Road, March: FDC proposing it could take you longer to reach them by telephone

Fenland Hall, County Road, March: FDC proposing it could take you longer to reach them by telephone - Credit: Archant

Four posts may go as telephone callers to Fenland Hall will be put on hold for longer and hours reduced as part of a fresh round of cost cutting measures.

If approved the new policy will mean the telephone contact centre (TCC) will aim to answer 50 per cent of calls within 20 seconds instead of the current target of 70 per cent within 20 seconds.

Geoff Kent, head of customer services at Fenland District Council, will recommend the overview and scrutiny committee to agree cuts that will see the TCC only open for 35 hours a week instead of 43.

It will mean no calls being answered weekdays after 4pm and an end to the 9am to noon Saturday service.

He predicts the council could save £123,000 a year by cutting the number of hours taken up answering calls.

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The centre took 78,044 calls in 2015/16 with an average of 67.5 per cent of calls answered within 20 seconds. The number of callers has dropped dramatically over the years – peaking at 151,594 in 2006 but declining yearly since.

The scrutiny committee will discuss the proposals next Monday with a final decision to be taken by Cabinet later: it is part of a series of cuts designed to save £2 million in the next four years.

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Councillors will be told that a survey of 44,000 households quizzed residents on which six out of 19 services “that it would be most acceptable for costs to be reduced”.

Mr Kent says ‘helping people to access council services was residents’ seventh most popular choice with regards to areas in which they thought savings could be made.

He said residents had differing views with some viewing the council shops, hubs and contact centre to be a waste of money and suggested that they were closed “especially as they self-serve on line”.

Others however found the support offered helpful, especially those unable to access on line information.

Mr Kent said it was important to note the proposals only affected the TCC – the current hubs and shops would retain their same opening times.

He added that less than 10 per cent of calls made to 01354 654321 occur between 4pm and 5pm and both March and Wisbech shops are closed between these times without complaints or deterioration of service quality.

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