Tuesday, 24 January 2012

New Council arrangements for handling initial planning enquiries

A new ‘golden number’ is being introduced to make it easier for members of the public with planning enquiries to contact Argyll and Bute Council.

The number – 01546 605518 – will go live tomorrow (Tuesday, January 24) and will replace planning services’ previous reception numbers in the various council areas.

Anyone dialling one of the old numbers will hear a message telling them about the new golden number before being automatically transferred to it.

Chair of the planning, protective services and licensing committee, Councillor Daniel Kelly, said it was all part of making the council more customer-friendly.

“We wanted to ensure that the system for handling initial customer enquiries regarding planning made the best use of our significant investment in the Customer Service Centre and Customer Service Points,” he added.

“From tomorrow, customers will be able to dial this one single number and have all their queries dealt with from there.

“This will not affect people’s ability to contact planning officers directly, which they will still be able to do in the same way as before. It will simply make it easier and quicker for those with a general enquiry to reach someone who can answer it for them.

“At the same time, of course, it will also make the council more efficient by reducing the duplication of reception functions and minimising the various numbers which customers currently call to find help.”

The new number – which has 20 lines available at any one time - will handle all initial customer contacts for planning services, including building standards and planning policy.

The customer services advisors who will answer the calls will:

Answer any planning and general building enquiries where possible
Pass calls to planning services officers where requested, or pass on messages by email
Take payments for any planning related fees
Advise customers of the progress of a particular planning application
Deal with requests for copy documents, planning policy documents and/or CDs
Deal with requests for planning application forms
Where a customer is seeking an appointment ,advisors will pass on details of their requirements to the relevant officer to arrange a call back

The customer service points in each of Argyll and Bute’s main towns will still be able to take face to face enquiries relating to planning, along with the full range of council and payment services they already offer.

Posters advertising the new golden number have already been put up in the customer service points and in planning office receptions.