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No Face-To-Face Council Advice In Buckingham & Winslow

AVDC Gateway

Published by the Mix96 News Team at 5:45am 14th February 2014.

£80,000 of savings will mean no more face-to-face council services for people in Buckingham and Winslow.

AVDC's cabinet have approved the decision to close the offices, but will have a computer and phone line for people to contact them.

Buckingham councillor Jon Harvey says that's not enough:

"People sometimes need to speak to somebody face-to-face.

"People often go to their council in times of distress, and having to go on-line is probably the last thing that you feel capable of doing."

But Cabinet Member for Community Matters, Pam Pearce, says they're just modernising:

"People don't expect to go into the centre in the same way, and we're already responding to what's been happening, rather than the other way around."

The Council said a review of the area offices concluded that providing a face-face contact point for AVDC enquiries no longer reflected the way the majority of customers wanted to access services.

Pam added:

"Bear in mind that something like 95% of people who contact us are by telephone and the rest by email."

There has been a steady drop in the number of people using the offices, with less than 13 customers visiting the Winslow office every day and less than 20 going to the Buckingham office.

The area offices are most commonly used by people wanting to pay bills and AVDC say that can be done in local post offices or at PayPoint outlets instead.

Cllr Harvey says it's just taking something away from people:

"They're becoming much more insular.

"They want to become, as they say, a customer-focussed, outward-facing coucil, but actually they're doing exactly the opposite."

Jon had set up a petition against the closure, which has had over 400 signatures.

Both offices were a joint effort with Bucks County Council, with contracts signed until at least 2016. It's still unclear what will happen with them.

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