TCs pandering to the ridiculous
I just had the most unbelievable telephone conversation with a senior town council officer. I spoke with a complainant last week who says there is always defecation on the sixth floor. I asked for more details - for example, whether anyone fed the cats, or whether he had seen any cat defecation around. He said he did not know. He did mention that he had seen a neighbour walking on his floor who was calling for her cats. Also he has never seen the cat in question.
Other residents went down and they looked into the matter. They found out that someone else living on the same floor had three cats and was in the habit of letting them out but these people had just moved out. We reported it to the complainant and asked them to let us know if there was any improvement.
He wrote back to say there was no improvement,so I called him for more information and followed up with an email which he never bothered to reply to.
He has now called the town council and said that he wants them to solve the problem without him giving any details. He said he did not like the way the situation was 'handled' as he had been interrogated by CWS. I told the town council officer that if he wanted to see transcripts of my telephone conversations with the resident, I would be happy to forward them. The officer said this is what residents expect - that the TC solves the problem without any details.
I asked him if this was not patently ridiculous - I said leaving aside the problem of the cats for a moment, if a resident called to say they had a problem with another resident but refused to give any details, what would the town council do? Not ask for details? How were they expected to solve the problem then?
He said the resident might not want to give details because has to live there with other neighbours, or he does not know. I told the officer that in every case, we have respected confidentiality and never revealed details if we were asked not to. In the latter situation, the man could have just said, I don't know! Then we move on and try and solve the problem in other ways.
This infuriates me - how are you supposed to solve a problem if the resident doesn't want to give any information. At the end of the day, the RESIDENT is the one living in the estate - and if they don't want to co-operate, they're the ones who are going to have to live with the consequences. In which case, either (1) the problem really isn't bothering them too much which is why they don't much care whether it's solved or (2) they're unreasonable. How is this problem to be solved? Through telepathy?
Now the officer of course wants to trap the cats downstairs even though it seems very likely that these are not the cats that come up. The cats only defecates between 11:30 pm and 6 am in the morning (facts which the town council officer did not have incidentally and was jotting down).
Of course the officer does not care. He says that the resident will feel something is being done and may be more co-operative because town council is 'doing something' - I said if the defecation continues, then he's not going to CARE if they have trapped the cats downstairs because it hasn't solved his problem. I said I've been to several areas where complainants say they have caught the cats and nothing has changed - they still wake up to a fresh pool of defecation in front of their door every morning.
I told him that since he has reflected that the problem has not been solved, the residents will go down and flyer the block.
The point of this lengthy rant is what exactly are the town council officers doing? For example, they see any easy way out - ie there is a problem, let me look as if I am DOING something by trapping the cats - rather than solving the problem. Don't tell me that if a resident called up and said that their neighbour is annoying them and not giving any details that the town council would knock on every door and ask which neighbour it is and find out what the problem is. No - they'd chuck it in the bin where it belongs.
Town councils often take the easy way out. They are not interested in solving problems but in being seen to do something. What it also does is that it encourages this bad behaviour - ponder this, is the resident who is being pandered to is going to be MORE or LESS likely to complain about something else in the future? And next time, it may not be so 'easy' to deal with as just calling pest control, paying money and killing a few cats which happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.