BY GEORGINA MARKS
Last Friday I tried to rent a garage from my local council.
At first, this seemed easy enough. I found an online application system on my council website. I filled it in. I pressed send.
I tried again.
Same annoying page.
So, I presumed the council had received my form. But later I thought that perhaps it was worth calling them to be sure that the form had arrived. There was a telephone number on the garage rental form to call, so I gave it a ring.
So, I decided I should try the switch board at the council. I spoke to a receptionist who put me through to housing options. The housing options phone rang a few times then it went dead.
So, I called back to the switchboard and explained that the previous receptionist (another person from the one who answered the phone this time) had put me through to housing options but the line had gone dead. This receptionist gave me a direct line for housing options and told me to ring it if the line went dead again after she had put me through.
The line went dead.
So, I called housing options on the new number I had been given and hey presto I was talking to a human being. This is how the call went:
“Hello, I am looking to rent a garage and sent you a form online. Have you received it?”
“OK. So, I want to rent a garage. Can I come in and pay the rent and fill in the form in the council offices?”
“Err, no. Because there are three of us who look after garages and Sarah is away for a week on holiday.”
“Right. So how about you or the other person? Can I sit down with you and arrange the garage? It is rather urgent”
“Because the other person, Sam, is away on holiday also.”
“Right. So, how about you?”
“Oh no. I cannot do that as I am looking after the office. Who will look after the office if I leave it?”
“Can I come and meet you in the office?”
“Oh no. That is not possible.”
“Right. So, I must wait until Sarah is back so one of you can spend the time to accept my garage form and give me the keys to a garage?”
At this point I hang up. Then I scream out so loud that my daughter looks at me as if I have gone completely mad.
I won’t mention the name of the council (not until I have rented a garage). Nor will I mention the name of the Partridgesque moron who spoke to me.
But I will say this:
In the private sector if an employee behaved like this utter jobsworth then he would be fired on the spot. We give our councils far too much leeway to be nothing short of crap. These jobsworths are often the sons and daughters of jobsworths. These councils are too often profligate and incompetent.
Council incompetence is costing British households on average £470 a year. How on earth did we let things get this bad?