“If we were a business we’d go out of business. Because we’re a monopoly we don’t”

Those were the damning words of Conservative councillor Roger Smith about the performance of Swindon Borough Council when it comes to answering the phone to its tenants and service users.

The authority’s scrutiny committee quizzed the Conservative administration’s cabinet member for corporate services and organisation elegance Keith Williams about his targets for having 80 per cent of calls to Euclid Street’s call centre answered within two minutes. At the minute the rate is at 65 per cent.

Committee chairman Labour councillor Bob Wright said: “Most businesses aim for pick-up within five or six rings. Your target of 80 per cent in two minutes is a long way away from that.

“Do you really think that a good target, that would be a good performance if just 80 per cent of calls were answered within two minutes for the people who pay us with their taxes?”

Coun Williams, defended the target. He said: “It’s a lot better than HMRC’s.

He said the call centre had received an average of 25,800 call per month between January and June this year compared with 30,000 per month in 2018, as more and more people moved to logging issues or making contact online.

He said: “We want it all to be answered within two minutes” but explained that 9.01am was the busiest times for call handling andif all those calls could be answered immediately, that would leave over capacity for the quieter periods.

Coun Roger Smithy said: “I don’t think it’s good enough.”