Camden told it takes too long to get through to anyone on the phone

Kentish Town North councillor reveals amazing party trick

Tuesday, 5th July — By Richard Osley


James Slater wants a quicker response for elderly residents

A COUNCILLOR says he can name every street in his ward three times – in the same time it takes people to get through to the right person on Camden Council’s phone lines.

Labour councillor James Slater warned that the delays for callers were “not a good front door” for the council as he spoke at last night’s (Monday’s) all member meeting.

“For those residents who are not online Camden Council’s phone switchboard is an essential service – but when calling it it can take a long time to get to where you need to be. It takes one minute and 46 seconds at the moment to hear the option for housing repairs, which is surely one of the most used,” he said.

Cllr Slater, who is such a whiz with letters and numbers that he once won eight games of Countdown in a row during an ‘octochamp’ run on Channel 4’s brainbox quiz, then said: “I’ll spare a full council rendition tonight but I can name every street in my ward in 40 seconds. So I can do that three whole times, by the time it says I need to press option five for parking services.”

He added: “Many residents find this difficult, especially the elderly and disabled. It costs extra money for people who are calling on ‘pay as you go’ and it’s not a great front door for the council.”

Cllr Slater was elected for the first time in May and represents the new Kentish Town North ward, which has more than 30 streets – meaning Cllr Slater can rap out each road name in just over a second each without forgetting any of them. It is understood  that no other councillor has been able to conquer such a feat of simultaneous fast-talking and instant memory, but the New Journal was making enquiries last night.

Town Hall leader Georgia Gould said: “There is actually a lot of work  going on already and we’re working with residents on a new phone system. The last six months have been the final stage of user testing. We’ve been working with AgeUK particularly and other residents who need to use the service and so that will be launching soon.”

She added: “There’s also been a number of changes made to how to report repairs, so we’ve now launched callback options so people don’t have to wait ages and then a multi-language web chat and a SMS repair reporting system.”


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