Fears for vulnerable in proposals for council access points in Skegness area

Opening hours at the Community Access Point in Skegness could be slashed under new proposals by East Lindsey District Council to meet rising demands for telephone and online services. ANL-160517-094918001
Opening hours at the Community Access Point in Skegness could be slashed under new proposals by East Lindsey District Council to meet rising demands for telephone and online services. ANL-160517-094918001

Residents may have less opportunity to take concerns directly to their local East Lindsey District Council access points under new proposals to meet a rising demand for online or phone services.

Customer Access Point (CAP) opening times at the Town Hall in Skegness could be slashed by 47 per cent and some centres, including Alford and Spilsby, are at risk of closing altogether from October.

Opening hours at the Community Access Point in Skegness could be slashed under new proposals by East Lindsey District Council to meet rising demands for telephone and online services. ANL-160517-094918001

Opening hours at the Community Access Point in Skegness could be slashed under new proposals by East Lindsey District Council to meet rising demands for telephone and online services. ANL-160517-094918001

Before any changes are made to the 11 CAPs, which cost ELDC £730,000 per year, the public is being given a chance to have their say in a consultation.

Two options are being offered, in which the CAP opening hours vary. Closure at Alford and Spilsby would be replaced with a 73 per cent reduction of opening hours.

What the impact would be on jobs is also unclear at the moment. A spokesman for ELDC said: “Different proposals require different levels of staffing. The council is working closely with Compass Point Business Services, the company that runs the Council’s Customer Services function, to minimise redundancies.”

Coun Graham Marsh, East Lindsey’s portfolio holder for partnerships, said: “The expectations of our customers are changing as is the way they access services. Whilst we recognise there is still a need for Customer Access Points in some locations, customer feedback so far is telling us residents wish to do more over the telephone and online so it makes sense to consider shifting resources in that direction, whilst also being able to deliver a significant saving for taxpayers. I’d encourage residents to take part in this important consultation.”

I have concerns that a number of the people who visit the ELDC Customer Access Point at Skegness are vulnerable and would be unable to access electronic or telephone information easily.

Steve Larner, town clerk

Skegness Town Council, which is also based at the Town Hall, was unable to give an official response at this stage. But town clerk Steve Larner said her had concerns. He said: “I have concerns that a number of the people who visit the ELDC Customer Access Point at Skegness are vulnerable and would be unable to access electronic or telephone information easily. It may also impact other services in the Town Hall.”

The district council claims the proposals, which would also hit Mablethorpe Tourist Information Centre, have been brought about because footfall has reduced over the past three years by 17 per cent overall, with evidence suggesting that more residents want to access services over the telephone and online.

Proposals are:

A - Reduce opening hours at Skegness CAP from November 1, 2016 by 47%. Alford CAP and Spilsby CAP to close from October 28. Mablethorpe TIC to have slightly reduced hours based on footfall. Manby CAP would close and become a Reception for visitors to the Council’s Headquarters only. Increase Call Centre capacity to ensure it can meet demand and make more services available online. This proposal, including the rest of the district, would save £150,000 in 2017/18 and £205,000 per year thereafter.

B - Reduce opening hours at Alford CAP, Skegness CAP, Mablethorpe CAP, Holton Le Clay CAP, Spilsby CAP and Tattershall CAP by 73%. Manby CAP would close and become a Reception for visitors to the Council’s Headquarters only. Increase telephone Call Centre capacity to ensure it can meet demand and make more services available online. Mablethorpe TIC to have slightly reduced hours based on footfall. This proposal, including the rest of the dictrict, would save £168,000 in 2017/18 and £217,000 per year thereafter.

Residents can have their say at www.e-lindsey.gov.uk/consultation until June 17 at 5pm. It is also available to complete at the Council’s Customer Access Points.