Councillor slams advice hub cuts
Residents have until Friday to protest against plans to slash the opening hours of Leighton’s one-stop advice centre. The cutbacks were announced just weeks after the Job Centre, Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Citizone helpdesk set up shop together in Bossard House, West Street.
The move, planned by Central Beds Council, would see the five-day-a-week service cut to three days, to save £25,000 a year. But Central Beds and Leighton town councillor Alan Shadbolt has slammed the plan which was proposed before the three services moved under one roof and are not being suggested for Dunstable which sees less people.
He said: “There is now good news for the residents of Leighton Buzzard. We now have a one-stop shop for Job Centre, CAB and Citizone. The refurbishment of Bossard House has now been completed and it now offers a warm and friendly office where you are welcomed by a cheerful receptionist who directs you to the appropriate area.
“But no sooner have the works been completed do Central Bedfordshire Council go out to consultation on the role of their customer service area.
“According to the figures in the consultation 5.6 people are seen every hour, this means that by reducing the hours, up to 86 people will not have the facility available to them. As the centre is busy for most of the day how will these residents be able to access the service?
“There are suggestions that customers will be able to use the new ‘customer access points’ – computers. Many people do not or cannot use these and would prefer to have personal face to face contact. If documentation is required to be validated how can this be done on a computer?
“If the centre is closed and residents have a deadline for submission of paperwork this would not be possible.
“An appointment system is being suggested. This would be fine if every customer was seen on time and their business was able to carried out in the allotted time.
“The reason for the reduction in hours is given as cost savings, I am at a loss to see where these can be made.
“There is no savings in wages as the officers are being relocated two days a week and there could be an increase as they might well be paid expenses to travel to their new location.
“Bossard House will still be open for business– it will only be CBC’s parts that will not be manned. Therefore lighting and heating will still have to be shared.
“The consultation closes on Friday and it is imperative that, whether you have used the service or not, you make your views known. Leighton Buzzard is the largest town in the district and is still growing. We cannot have a part-time service.”
To make your views known either fill a form in at the Bossard House or go online to www.centralbedfordshire.gov. uk/consultations.
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west