'It's almost impossible for people to have face-to-face meetings with council officials' claims former Milton Keynes councillor

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The Covid distancing rules just don’t seem to have changed, he says

A former councillor has accused MK City Council of “ignoring” residents who want a face to face meeting with its officers.

Paul Bartlett, who is now a city Alderman, claims that long after the removal of Covid restrictions, the council is still often refusing to see members of the public.

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Reaching the relevant department by phone can also be difficult, he says, and callers still hear a recorded message referring to “the current situation” of Covid.

MK Council's Civic Offices at Central Milton KeynesMK Council's Civic Offices at Central Milton Keynes
MK Council's Civic Offices at Central Milton Keynes

Mr Bartlett is calling for an immediate change of policy.

"Quite bluntly, to bar residents from meeting officers without an appointment is stupid and not acceptable," says Alderman Bartlett.

"MK Council is offering an arms length service when it should be doing the opposite."

However, the council is denying the accusation and insisting people can be seen.

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A spokesman told the Citizen: “The hardworking team at the City Council see people at the Civic when they need to, for example for booked homelessness assessments, residents taking their adult education exams, our busy registry service serving residents with births, deaths and marriages, including out-of-hours death registration, and much more.”

He added: “Many of the colleagues from the Civic are also out and about in the community, providing services like home care which couldn’t be any less ‘arms-length’.

“We no longer have a waiting area at Civic which used to operate on an undignified ‘take a ticket and wait’ basis. Instead, we’ve created additional and accessible private meeting rooms, which people prefer when discussing private matters. We are also using the phone and online services more, which the majority of people find more convenient as there is no travel required to get assistance or information.

“We help more than 1,000 people who contact our customer services team by phone every day...Mr Bartlett’s comments are disappointing.”

The Alderman is sticking to his guns though.

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"Council staff can work in a library, care workers can visit homes and see the public yet not in the Civic Offices.

"What makes these officers any different from the rest? And of course, at lunchtime these same protected officers happily cross the road to CMK shopping centre where there are hundreds of people.

"The hypocrisy behind this is unbelievable.”

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