Registry closures

BETROTHED couples and bereaved relations in Spilsby may have to travel further to register their weddings and deaths, if proposed registry office closures go ahead.

As part of its cost cutting measures to save £125million, Lincolnshire County Council is considering the closure of five registry offices across the county.

Currently, Lincolnshire registry offices achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, but a report by the executive director of resources and community safety, Pete Moore, raises concerns about how the closures could affect this.

The report states: “There may be a risk of reduced customer satisfaction, negative feedback and the loss of staff morale, which may compromise the Customer Service Excellence accreditation.”

Further risks highlighted in the report focus on the foreseen loss of income for bridal shops and florists in affected towns if ceremonies are moved elsewhere.

Owner of Bridal Elegance on Market Street, Spilsby, Patricia Fry, said: “It will affect the business because we are the only bridal shop in Spilsby and I don’t really understand why they are closing it and Horncastle.

“The White Hart now has a license but it would not be everybody’s choice and a lot of people don’t have the transport to get to Skegness or Louth.”

The report also highlights the requirement for customers to travel increased distances to alternative offices as a potential concern.

To ensure Skegness registry is able to cope with more customers, the council has stated its commitment to providing better facilities there, which ‘would prove very attractive to local residents and support local tourism by facilitating ceremonies for holidaymakers’.

Spilsby registry offices, along with those in Bourne, Market Rasen, Horncastle and Long Sutton, have been selected for the cuts due to their low usage and poor cost effectiveness.

The registry opens less than eight hours a week and conducts a low volume of ceremonies but could provide a significant capital return to the council if and when it is sold.

LCC leader Coun Martin Hill said: “With very much reduced budgets, all councils are having to look at how they can provide services more efficiently whilst still meeting their statutory obligations.

“To this end, a review has been undertaken of all registration offices to make sure they are efficient and providing a value-for-money quality service to the public.”

“Following this review. recommendations have been put forward to consider changes at registration offices that are currently only open a few hours a week where the costs to run them is more than any income they generate. Proposals will be consulted on extensively before any final decisions are made.”

The results of the public consultation will be referred to the Executive for a final decision in the autumn, with potential changes coming into place on January 1 2012.