Cork City Council asked to clarify position on recording cycling complaints

Cork City Council asked to clarify position on recording cycling complaints
Conn Donovan, chair, Cork Cycling Campaign.Picture Denis Minihane.

CORK City Council has been criticised for admitting it does not “centrally record” complaints made about cycling infrastructure and then claiming it never said such service requests were not held centrally.

A Freedom of Information request was sent to both Cork City and County Council in February this year, requesting the number and nature of complaints made about cycle infrastructure in Cork.

Cork County Council provided the requested information in early March, revealing that just six complaints were made to the local authority regarding cycle lane infrastructure.

Cork City Council responded to the request in June, claiming that such complaints are not “centrally recorded”, and provided no further data.

However, City Hall has since disputed this in a statement claiming it never said service requests were not held centrally.

City Hall’s conflicting statements come after more than 100 complaints about cycling infrastructure in Cork were logged on an independent platform in a matter of weeks.

Conn Donovan, chair, Cork Cycling Campaign.Picture Denis Minihane.
Conn Donovan, chair, Cork Cycling Campaign.Picture Denis Minihane.

The FOI decision has since been appealed in the hope of accessing this information and City Hall has been asked to clarify their comments but the chair of the Cork Cycling Campaign has criticised City Hall in the wake of the FOI admission.

Speaking to The Echo, Conn Donovan said:

“It is important that Cork City Council knows how many complaints are being made and what sort of things people are complaining about.

“Many people wish to flag issues because they have fallen off their bike due gravel, mud, a pothole, etcetera, and they just want other people not to get hurt also.

“To learn that the Council does not record how many complaints they receive about cycling infrastructure is not what people would expect from a local authority in 2020, and does nothing to counter peoples' valid concerns about attitudes towards cycling in City Hall,” he added.

Mr Donovan also highlighted a new website, cyclingreporter.org, which was set up to highlight inadequacies in cycle infrastructure in Cork.

Cycle Lanes Cork City. Pic; Larry Cummins
Cycle Lanes Cork City. Pic; Larry Cummins

For a trial period until September 2020, this site will run to collect data for Cork.

This anonymous data will be viewable on maps found on the website, and it will also be curated and made publicly available for download at the end of each month.

This will allow a dataset to be sent to Cork City and County Council, in the hopes of highlighting any issues to the relevant personnel.

“Fortunately, a researcher from UCC has developed a platform whereby people can submit issues directly onto a website,” explained Mr Donovan.

“Over 100 issues were submitted on this map in the first few weeks of going live.

“I would hope that Cork City Council will review and address the issues on this map while we wait for their in-house systems to be upgraded in order to count and record cycling complaints,” he added.

“It is disappointing that someone has had to develop and fund a website to collect this important data like this because the council is unwilling or unable to do so.” 

When asked for comment, the director of operations and of the community, culture and placemaking directorate claimed that “Cork City Council cannot find any record of advising anyone that we do not have a Service Request Management ICT System (CRM) or that service requests are not held centrally.

“In fact, Cork City Council has, on numerous occasions, publicised the processes and procedures that we have for managing service requests.” 

The statement went on to say that a “highly experienced team of six or seven staff” operate the Customer Service Unit (CSU), which has taken 132,000 specific individual telephone calls in the past 12 months, of which almost 50,000 were service requests.

The statement went on to say that these service requests were logged on the City Council’s Corporate CRM ICT system, but did not say how many pertained to cycling.

The remaining 82,000 calls were information requests which were answered while the caller was on the line.

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