A Request To Drop Lollies On The City From A Helicopter Was Among The Crazy Requests To Sydney Council

The City of Sydney call centre team at work. Photo: Ben Johnson.

A man who wanted power points installed in a harbourside park so he could watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks on TV, as well as live, and a woman wanting council rangers to stop pigeons staring at her from a rooftop opposite her apartment are just some of the stranger requests amid 268,000 calls to the City of Sydney’s 24-hour call centre during the 2013-14 financial year.

The council has 20 staff based at Town Hall, answering calls 8am to 6pm weekdays, with a contractor looking after calls after hours.

Unsurprisingly, nearly half the calls were about waste services, with the next most popular subject being cars and transport at 12.4%. The remaining top 5 queries, in order, involve Roads, streets and footpaths; community inquiries; graffiti and bill posters.

But there were some strange calls too, from an Eastern European man wanting tips on where to find a wife to a tourist wanting know what “pictures of feet” mean on yellow pedestrian crossing signs, a woman who wanted rangers to prevent possums using her garden as a bathroom, and residents complaining about babies crying in the middle of the night.

One caller wanted the Italian translation for the fertiliser “Blood and Bone”. He got the answer courtesy of Google translator. Meanwhile, a home renovator impressed with Council’s makeover Glebe Town Hall wanted to know the exact shade used. The call centre contacted a City heritage specialist for the answer. Then there was the German woman searching for her holidaying son’s car, missing somewhere in greater Sydney.

Among the other unusual calls were:
• A person wanting a permit to drop lollies from a helicopter above Hyde Park. (They were turned down.)
• Budding entrepreneurs seeking permission to sell fresh coconuts and ice creams on Sydney beaches.
• Complaints about noisy peak-hour traffic.
• An entertainer who left her juggling balls at home and urgently needed help finding replacements.
• A cruise ship crew member in search of a nine-inch screw.
• Someone curious about why the 42-floor ANZ Tower is shorter than Sydney Tower.
• A traveller hoping council could book a flight for him.
• A man wanting fashion advice on his choice of neck tie, who then asked for instructions on how to tie it. He hung up with his problems solved.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said Council’s front-line team managed to resolve more than 80% of inquiries at first contact, up from 77 per cent the previous year.

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