Headlines: February 7th, 2006

Staff at four customer service centres run by Newcastle City Council have been awarded a prestigious Charter Mark by Government assessors who highlighted six areas of best practice in their work. The Charter Mark recognises excellence as part of the drive towards the modernisation of public services.The Accredited Cabinet Office Charter Mark Assessor praised the one-stop service offered by the centres and said the council’s customer care culture was “too good to be true.” During his visit Colin Brown found there was an overwhelming buy-in from staff and he said customer service was ingrained in the council’s culture.

“CSC staff paid full attention to meeting the special needs of its customers, observing corporate Equal Opportunities, Dignity at Work policies and have a Customer Service and a draft Disability Access Strategy,” he said and added, “The use of technology in improving services has been a significant feature of your progress, and you have been the recipient of two national awards for IT innovation.”

The assessment highlighted six areas of best practice including the speed at which the City Council could process and analyse the results of consultation, the way it made the most of available resources and delivered effective, efficient value for money services for council taxpayers. There had also been a significant improvement in customer service centre facilities over the last three years. There are plans for three more centres in other areas of the city by 2008.

Mr. Brown said the centres had an outstanding record of service development and should take great credit for moving the service forward so quickly and successfully.

Newcastle City Council’s executive member for Modernisation, Transformation and Regulation, Anita Lower said, “The Purpose of CSCs is to give local people access to council and other public services under one roof and at a local level, which they have done with great enthusiasm and professionalism. This award reflects a considerable level of service expansion over the last three years.”

The Service is run by the council’s Corporate Customer Services Manager who is responsible for 43 members of staff who work in each of the four CSCs by rotation.