A Sheffield tenants’ representative says residents cannot report complaints to council repair chiefs – because the phone is never answered.
John Cawthorne spent almost 45 minutes on hold to Sheffield Council’s repair and maintenance line, on Friday.
He was attempting to report problems with a new entry security system at the Exeter Drive block of flats in Hanover, and with heating in the tenants’ and residents’ association office in the same building.
John, who is secretary of the TARA, said: “I’ve got neighbours coming to me saying they can’t see who is at the front door, and many of these are elderly women who live alone.
“We’ve had issues with rough sleepers trying to get in and if people can’t see who they are they believe they have lost their fob and push the buzzer.
“But we’ve also had the postman complaining a few times because he can’t get in.
“I called to report this at 1pm and 15 minutes later the phone rang out.
“I tried again and it was ringing for 12 minutes, then finally one more time and I got sick of being told someone would answer.”
Mr Cawthorne said other residents have had similar problems when reporting repairs.
He added: “This is the repair line for 60,000 other households in the city so it affects a lot of people.
“If you have a repairs service where you can’t actually speak to anyone - in effect you don’t have a repairs service.
“Then it becomes a situation where people don’t bother to report repairs because they become so exasperated.”
A Sheffield Council spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to Mr Cawthorne for the problems he experienced when trying to report repairs. We have spoken to him to say sorry personally and have been out to his property on Monday to look at the repairs and resolve them as soon as possible.
“Friday was an exceptionally busy day on our council housing repair line and we are investigating why this was, to make sure the long waits are not repeated.
“We are working hard to improve our overall performance and in the last two months our call waiting times were halved, with an average waiting time in January of just over two minutes.
“Customers are also able to report repairs online at Sheffield Council housing”