Update on Streetscene Issues from Area Champions

Streetscene contact centre - 643 7333

WITHIN its first four months of operation the Streetscene contact centre handled 14,370 calls. Only 429 of these calls were abandoned.

These figures indicate that the centre has been a major success in opening up accessibility of services. Contact with the Highway and Engineering Services department has tripled with the number of enquiries rising from a reported 13,000 per year to an estimated 39,000.

Calls coming into the centre have generated 11,902 Streetlink enquiries. Of these 91 % have been completed and the remainder are in progress.

Approximately 75% of calls coming into the centre are related to highway maintenance or streetlighting matters.

Roadside trees

Every week residents contact the Council asking for tree planting in their road. In response to this demand the Council is introducing its first ever 'Adopt-a-Tree' scheme.

Not only do trees improve the appearance of Wirral's roads, but they are also proven to act as a deterrent to motorists parking on grass verges. The price of the tree includes planting and maintenance of the tree in an approved location. Planting can only take place from December through to March.

We will consider all requests for tree planting, however there may be restrictions if utility equipment, such as electricity or telephone cables, is based in the area. All street lamps, telephone poles and driveways will also need to be at least 1.5 metres clear from the proposed site of a tree.

Highway maintenance - new look name plates

The Council is modernising the look of street name plates in Wirral.

Problems with vandalism of existing signs has prompted the revamp.

The signs will include postcodes - to help motorists find their way about Wirral more easily. A lot of databases for deliveries are based on postcodes, and it will also assist emergency services.

The first new sign is expected to be tested in Moreton next month. They will then be rolled out to key routes across the borough as part of a programme of Streetscene improvements.

Answering concerns on speeding traffic

Wirral Council is appealing for motorists to be more aware of their speed when out and about on the borough's roads.

The local authority has launched its mobile speed warning unit that will be used to target speeding hotspots across Wirral.

The unit monitors the speed of passing traffic and has a screen that flashes up warning messages to motorists driving too fast, and 'well done' messages to those keeping under the speed limit. We will now be using this speed activated equipment to provide information to help drivers choose a more appropriate speed.


What is Streetscene all about?

Wirral Council is committed to improving the services it provides for Wirral residents. We are bringing together all street related services operated by the Council under the banner of Streetscene.

Currently the public use different telephone numbers and different departments to contact the Council with a road related enquiry. The introduction of this new service is aimed at simplifying things for the customer by providing a single point of access - a contact centre, with dedicated staff taking responsibility for handling all street related enquiries.

What type of enquiries will the Streetscene contact centre handle?

The public can contact us about anything to do with the roads and pavements and we will do our utmost to answer their enquiry. Some of the initial services covered by the Streetscene team include:

Services are now being shaped to link-in more strategically and directly with the local communities. This link is provided through new Streetscene Area Champions and closer working with Area Forums.

Wirral Council's first ever Streetscene Area Champions took up post in April 2003. Four area champions are each responsible for their own patch in Wirral (either North, South, East or West Wirral) and they manage everything happening on the roads in their area - from co-ordinating road works to getting problem potholes repaired. The new structure will also see the champions working closely with area forums to shape Streetscene services to meet the needs of local communities.

If you have any concerns, please call the Streetscene contact centre on 643 7333

Why are we introducing Streetscene?

Streetscene has been identified as one of five ‘key priority areas’ for Wirral Council this year.

Essentially this means that it is a service area where the public most want to see change – and we are doing everything possible meet public demand, simplify services and bring about improvements.

Four key points about Streetscene:


How soon will the new service be up and running?

The plans have involved major restructuring within the Highway and Engineering Services Department. The Streetscene service will be implemented in phases over the next nine months.

Wirral Council's first ever Streetscene Area Champions took up post in April 2003. Four area champions are each responsible for their own patch in Wirral (either North, South, East or West Wirral) and they manage everything happening on the roads in their area - from co-ordinating road works to getting problem potholes repaired. The new structure will also see the champions working closely with area forums to shape Streetscene services to meet the needs of local communities.

A new contractor has now taken charge of the maintenance of all Council roadside grass verges. In the past staff based in Education and Cultural Services managed the Council’s grass cutting – but this will now be handled by the Streetscene team. Again this is part of a bid to deliver an improved high quality and more streamlined service for residents.

The introduction of the telephone and e-mail contact centre, based in Bebington, became operational June 2003. Figures show that the department is now three-times more accessible for members of the public and within the first four months it has already taken more than 13,000 calls.


What type of enquiries will the Streetscene contact centre handle?

The public can contact us about anything to do with the roads and pavements and we will do our utmost to answer their enquiry. Some of the initial services covered by the Streetscene team include:

By 2004 the service will be expanded with a view to handling enquiries on flyposting, abandoned cars, illegal parking, land drainage, street cleansing – including dog fouling and graffiti removal and refuse collection.


How does thecontact centre work?

Our Streetscene contact centre operators have a range of information and advice to hand to hopefully will be able to answer questions from the public straight away.

Urgent matters such as street light repairs, or reports of potholes will be prioiritised and referred to area champions for inspection.

In some instances centre staff may not be able to answer your enquiry straight away. If this is the case the operator will contact one of our specialist engineers for additional information. You will be given an estimated response time and you can request if you would like this response by telephone, letter or email.


How much is all this costing?

Streetscene is being established from existing funding and is aimed at bringing about a more cost effective and streamlined service.


What is staff reaction to the introduction of Streetscene?

Staff are looking forward to Streetscene. The restructuring of services has been weighted to meet their concerns. We have spent a lot of time talking to front-line staff who want to put an end to services being operated in splendid isolation and ‘take the heat out of the system’.

We need to recognise changing times staff are wanting to try something different and flexible, with more responsibility and accountability … which Streetscene promises to bring.

This is an exciting opportunity to provide a better service and it will enable us to respond more effectively to public needs.


What are the challenges we face with Streetscene?

It will be complicated – because of the sheer range of service providers and contractors involved. Currently everyone is operating to different standard guidelines and procedures and we now have to look at bringing them all together.

At the moment we are focusing our efforts on predicting and planning the needs and demands that there will be on the service when we ‘go-live’. As soon as it is operational we will be turning our attentions to monitoring and managing the service. And through linking in with area forums we will be able to identify the different priorities and issues for different areas – and shape services to reflect these needs.

Grass verges used to be handled by leisure services, since it has been managed by Streetscene they are overgrown – why?

As part of the introduction of our major Streetscene initiative, we have recently changed the way we manage our grass cutting services in Wirral, appointing a private company, Continental Landscapes, to cut roadside verges around the borough approximately once a fortnight. The new procedure is still very much in its infancy, however it promises to bring about a better value and improved service for residents in the long term. We do appreciate there have been teething problems with the service, but both the Council and the contractor have worked tirelessly to resolve issues. We are now confident the service is much improved, with more resources - and it will remain this way. If anyone has any concerns about grass cutting or weed spraying in Wirral, please call the Streetscene contact centre on 643 7333


What is being done to improve the condition of Wirral's roads

As part of the Council's road repair programme for 2003/4 we have plans to spend an estimated £2.3m on improving the condition of Wirral’s roads over the next twelve months.

We are committed to planning our highway maintenance programme proactively. We use the nationally accredited UKPMS (United Kingdom Pavement Management System) to analyse the condition of Wirral roads.

Each year, over a period of eight weeks, every single road in Wirral is inspected using specialist equipment. Data generated by this inspection is then used to prioritise the roads in Wirral which most need treatment. This report is purely based on a structural need and not geographical location.

In addition to this report we also take on board the views of the general public, sites of potential accident claims and the input of the area forums. The proposed highway maintenance programme then goes to both select committee and cabinet for approval by Members.

The amount of available funding determines the extent of the programme.