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Council cuts hours of its One Stop Shop
ELEVEN full-time posts will go when Swindon Council reduces the opening hours of its customer services from next month in a bid to save £200,000.
Swindon Direct, which includes the One Stop Shop in Beckhamp-ton Street and the telephone contact centre, will open both its services to the public between 9am and 5pm from April 2. Currently, the One Stop Shop is open from 8.30am to 6pm, while the contact centre’s opening hours are 8.30am to 8pm.
Swindon Council, which made the decision at February’s budget meeting for 2013/14, says the change has been made to reduce operating costs for the services in the wake of the financial pressures facing the council.
It comes after analysis of customer information showed that the number of people using both services between 8.30am and 9am and 5pm to 6pm was significantly lower than during the remaining opening hours.
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “The proposal to reduce the opening hours for the One Stop Shop and Contact Centre forms part of next year’s budget and will save the council an estimated £200,000 a year. “Unfortunately, as a result of the changes to the services, 11 full-time equivalent posts within our customer services team, provided by Capita, will be affected. “The staff concerned are going through the redeployment process at present and we hope to be able to find them alternative job opportunities within the council or Capita.” Swindon Direct deals with about 400,000 calls to the contact centre, 320,000 visits to the One Stop Shop, Civic Offices and Clarence House receptions, as well as 38,300 customer emails each year.
Coun Fionuala Foley, the cabinet member for Streetsmart and Corporate Services, said: “As a council, we have to save tens of millions of pounds over the next few years, which means we have to look at every single service we provide to see if we can drive out savings.
“Our customer service function is no different, but we have tried to implement changes that will have the least impact on customers.
“Although we appreciate the change in opening hours will be inconvenient to some people, hundreds of the council’s services are available online and there are several cost-effective payment methods that customers can use to save them having to use the One Stop Shop or contact centre.”
Coun Des Moffatt, the Labour group’s finance lead, said the reduced hours represented the further undermining of basic council services.
He said: “It will have an impact. The emergency numbers aren’t as effective as they might be. If we can get them jacked up a bit, maybe they can cover the shortfall.
“When I go down there nowadays, there’s much less human traffic than there used to be. “Maybe it’s because people have lost faith in the council being able to do anything for them.”
For more information on Swindon Direct visit: www.}swindon.gov.uk/customerservices or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For Streetsmart email email@example.com