Before you can work out what Mr Mustard is on about you need a document to read. It does run to 14 pages, sorry. It is the Foreword from the "Leader" of the council, Richard Cornelius, to the corporate plan for 2012-13. I would be very surprised if he had managed to write it all without a ghost writer. Anyway, here it is:
Leader's foreword to the Corporate Plan for 2012/13
Let Mr Mustard make this easy for you. Here, from the first paragraph, is an ambitious but essentially vague sentence:-
We are ambitious for Barnet and will make sure that the council plays its part in securing the future success of the borough.
and now, from page 41, a complacent sentence:-
7. Ensure that 75% of all calls handled by the Customer Services Organisation will be answered within 20 seconds
Now it is true that Barnet Council are themselves absolutely rubbish at the simplest office task going, that of picking up a ringing telephone and saying "Hello this is Fred Stead in Planning, How may I help you sir/madam". In fact the council only managed this feat 55.8% of the time in Q2 of 2011/12 as you will be able to read in the overall performance report which follows now:-
Barnet Council Overall Performance Q2 2011/12
The statistic that you wanted was on page 4.
What Mr Mustard doesn't follow is how anyone in Barnet can have any confidence at all that Barnet Council can manage the complexities of the One Barnet programme when they can't even pick up a telephone within 20 secs.
Now back to the point. What sort of pathetic, unambitious, complacent, lack of service target is 75%. It is awful. The target should be well north of 90%. Is it possible? Well yes it is. Take a look at the following link where this company Jam publishes their live telephone answering performance. Mr Mustard has added this idea to the Ideas website where it will be resolutely ignored as it is too challenging to implement.
On the day Mr Mustard visited Jam had answered calls in an average of 1.67 rings during the last 30 days and never answered later than 3 rings. They had answered 99.22% of all calls and their answers were rated 9.5 out of 10. Now that is what Mr Mustard calls customer service.
Mr Mustard has noticed two other targets that are not at all challenging in the Leader's foreword. Go and take a look at target 20 on page 46. To save your time Mr Mustard will repeat it for you.
20. Limit the residual average household waste to 710 kilograms per household.
Mr Mustard wondered what the current average waste weight might be. He thought maybe if the current weight was 800 kilograms then 710 kilograms would represent a good target. If you look at the performance report above you will find that the average at the end of Q2 was 719.7 kilograms so the target reduction is a mere 1.35%. Pun warning. That is a rubbish target (sorry). Where is the ambition?
21. Ensure that a minimum of 34% of household waste is recycled composted and reused.
What is the current percentage? You are getting the hang of this now aren't you? You think it will be 34.5% don't you? Good guess but wrong. The outturn at the end of Q2 was 35.7% so our "Leader" plans to take us backwards. Mr Mustard has just realised why Barnet Council is easy Council. It's because the targets are easy.
Barnet Council seems to struggle with recycling. Let us cast our minds back to September 2007 when the eminently recyclable Barnet First magazine ram raided our letterboxes. Here is the Leader's message from then.
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So what did the then Leader have to say in September 2007. He said "we are on course to hit our tough target of recycling 40% of household waste by 2010". Something went seriously wrong between 2007 and 2010 and is still doing so.
Now there is also a statistical problem with the feeble targets that we have been promised. Firstly we have to assume that the waste coming into households will stay static which is reasonable as we are all creatures of habit.
So if 35.7% of our waste is recycling leaving 64.3% of waste which weighs 719.7 kilo
if you then reduce residual household waste to 710 kilo the amount recycled must go up by 9.7 kilo and so the 35.7 will increase to 36.6%
In fact as we come out of recession Mr Mustard expects that our consumer society will consume more electrical goods, carpets etc and waste more food so there is likely to be an increasing amount of waste produced per household per annum.
On that cheerful note Mr Mustard will finish by saying that one of the three principles which allegedly underpins everything that Barnet Council do is:
"A relentless drive for efficiency"
Mr Mustard is off to talk to the Advertising Standards Authority.