Keen to ignore the communication needs of the most vulnerable of its many customers, Conservative Party controlled Wycombe District Council removed its main public telephone number from its web site wycombe.gov.uk
Instead of an old fashioned, but still working perfectly well, telephone number, Wycombe Council wants everyone to use:
Many vulnerable or elderly or poor citizens do not have have Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts.
The Slough Times asked the Leader of Wycombe's Tory councillors for an explanation. Despite being the ultimate boss of the council, higher than the chief executive, and the chief of 49 Tory councillors, Cllr Katrina Wood (Tylers Green and Loudwater ward) seemed shy and sadly did not know what to say - not even an "Oh dear" or "That is wrong". Instead Mrs Wood wanted council staff to give a comment on her behalf.
Labour Party comment
We rang the Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Rafiq Raja (Bowerdean ward). He said:-
We need telephone numbers for the council so that people with
no access to computers or are uncomfortable with navigating the Internet can
speak to their council.
It is disappointing that, what appears to be, a short-sighted
money-saving idea, is unfairly discriminating against the people we were elected
I don't think other councillors were informed about this
unexpected change. On behalf of the Labour Group I shall be asking the chief
executive to reconsider the omission of our council's public telephone number
from the council's web site.
Wycombe has one genuinely Independent councillor Brian Pearce (Booker and Cressex). Mr Pearce exhibits the best qualities of good councillors. He has an opinion and was prepared to speak freely:-
In this day and age it is assumed everybody is online but
everybody is not. The person needing help may not be online.
The council should be transparent. Telephone numbers should not
be hidden from the public this council is supposed to be serving. The council's
main number should be clearly visible.
Lib Dem comment
Wycombe has only one Lib Dem councillor, Ray Farmer (Ryemead). Unlike Labour and the Conservatives, Mr Farmer has an opinion:-
I think the council's telephone number should be put back on
the web site straight away.
We must think about our elderly population who don't use social
It should be reinstated right away. It should never have been
taken-off in the first place.
Wycombe's 60 councillors can be seen at councillors.wycombe.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx
Wycombe District Council's main telephone number is 01494-461 000.
South Bucks District Council has a list of telephone numbers and email addresses on its web site that Wycombe, and Slough Unitary Authority too, could beneficially copy.