Agenda item

Area Offices Customer Consultation

Report of the Cabinet Member for Communities considering the outcomes of the two consultations relating to proposed changes to the Market Deeping and Stamford Area Office provision.

Decision:

Decision:

 

1)    That Cabinet approves the relocation of the Market Deeping Area Office based on option 3 contained within the Cabinet Member for Communities’ report.

2)    That Cabinet approves the relocation of the Stamford Area Office based on option 3 contained within the Cabinet Member for Communities’ report.

3)    Cabinet authorises the use of the property reserve to meet any costs relating to the exiting of each site.

4)    Cabinet recommends to Council a funding allocation of £100k to be included in the 2020/21 capital programme in order to undertake a modernisation scheme at Stamford Arts Centre.

 

Considerations/Reasons for decision:

 

  • Report of the Cabinet Member for Communities.
  • The Customer Experience Strategy approved by Cabinet on 21 January 2020.
  • The increase in customer expectations and the use of modern technologies.
  • Two separate public consultations: One taken at the beginning of the year and one during the Covid-19 pandemic to establish any shift in opinion as a result of the service offered during the pandemic. Consultation carried out with residents, businesses and other interested parties.
  • Feedback form the consultation confirming a need to modernise elements of the customer offer and improve accessibility at Stamford Arts Centre.
  • The stage 2 Equalities Analysis attached as Appendix 7 to the report of the Cabinet Member for Communities.

 

Other options considered:

 

Market Deeping

 

1.         The closure of the Market Deeping customer service centre with no alternative physical provision in Market Deeping.

2.         The complete removal of the face-to-face provision in Market Deeping. However, this would see the installation of a kiosk, computer and direct dial phone within the Deeping Community Centre. Current staff from Market Deeping would be providing services from other locations across the district and would require some modernisation of council services to support a change in provision.

3.         The continuation of the service in its present form. However, it was recognised through the survey that the facility needed modernisation. Whilst the quality of response from the Council’s employees was regarded as excellent, the environment no longer provided the level of customer experience that was expected.

 

Stamford

 

1.         The closure of the Stamford customer service centre with no alternative physical provision in Stamford.

2.         To replace the existing centre with an enhanced self-service provision.

3.         To continue the existing service provision. However, it was recognised through the survey that the facility needed modernisation. Whilst the quality of response from the Council’s employees was regarded as excellent, the environment no longer provided the level of customer experience that was expected.

Minutes:

The Leader thanked the Cabinet Member for Communities and the officers involved in the work that had been undertaken. The pandemic had shown how people’s behaviour  had changed in the way they interacted with the Council and he looked forward to the comprehensive improvement programme for Stamford Arts Centre.

 

The Cabinet Member for Communities presented her report on the outcome of two customer consultations relating to proposed changes to the Market Deeping and Stamford Area office provision. Customer expectations continued to increase and the way in which people accessed services had changed with the introduction of a wide range of modern technologies, this had been highlighted with the recent Covid-19 pandemic.   To ensure that the Council continued to meet the needs of those who used its services on a regular basis, the report before members considered the face to face customer service provision at Market Deeping and Stamford area offices.

 

Two consultations exercises had been carried out.  One had taken place before lockdown and one during lockdown to understand the needs and preferences of those who accessed the Council’s services at these locations.   Following the closure of the Council’s offices in March 2020, due to lockdown, the way that people accessed services had changed to telephone, website and via email.  There had been an increase in demand across these areas and between 23 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 the Council had received over 60,000 telephone calls and over 11,000 emails.

 

A second consultation exercise had been undertaken in June/July 2020 to better understand if there had been a shift in opinion as a result of the changes to the service offer for each of the sites during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Cabinet Member for Communities thanked all those who had provided feedback, which indicated that residents were more supportive of the proposals to access services digitally.

 

A number of options had been outlined within the report to look at how the Council could modernise its offer to residents.  Consultations had taken place with Deepings Community Library to put in a kiosk and to have access to PC’s and signposting for those who needed to physically access services.  Thanks were given to the Deepings Community Library for their help with the initiative and work would be undertaken to ensure a smooth transition took place.

 

The offer in Stamford would relocate to the Stamford Arts Centre.  A kiosk and telephone service would be put in place and Customer Service officers would be available to support residents during seasonal or peak demand.  PC support would continue to be accessible from Stamford Library.  To ensure that a high quality service provision was delivered effectively, investment to renovate Stamford Arts Centre was proposed.  This would help to improve the effectiveness of the facilities for those accessing the Arts and the for those accessing other Council services.

 

Cabinet Members were supportive of the proposals. The Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy welcomed the use of Stamford Arts Centre and the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning was happy to see the joined up approach being taken at Stamford by utilising the Arts Centre and also the work done at Market Deeping as he had been involved early on with proposals.  Questions were asked in relation to having a face to face option other than at peak times and it was stated arrangements would be made for those residents who required a face to face meeting.

 

On being put to the vote it was AGREED:

 

1)    That Cabinet approves the relocation of the Market Deeping Area Office based on option 3 contained within the Cabinet Member for Communities’ report.

2)    That Cabinet approves the relocation of the Stamford Area Office based on option 3 contained within the Cabinet Member for Communities’ report.

3)    Cabinet authorises the use of the property reserve to meet any costs relating to the exiting of each site.

4)    Cabinet recommends to Council a funding allocation of £100k to be included in the 2020/21 capital programme in order to undertake a modernisation scheme at Stamford Arts Centre. 

 

Supporting documents: