Norwich City Council cashier counter closure plans
Sarah HallThe closure of the cashier service at City Hall has moved another step closer as cash-strapped Norwich City Council looks for ways to make savings of �8m over the next two years.Sarah Hall
The closure of the cashier service at City Hall has moved another step closer as cash-strapped Norwich City Council looks for ways to make savings of �8m over the next two years.
The city council unveiled in November where the axe will fall as bosses battle to plug the hole in their finances, with jobs, sports facilities and grants to voluntary groups all facing cuts.
The cuts were rubber-stamped by the ruling Labour executive last month, but details of the move to close City Hall's cashier counter - where many people still head to pay rent and council tax bills in cash - were aired at last night's executive meeting.
Judith Lubbock, Liberal Democrat councillor for Eaton, said she was concerned at the proposals and said people should have the choice of how to make payments.
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But Steve Morphew, Labour leader of the city council said officers would be speaking directly to people, who currently head in to City Hall to pay, to suggest alternative methods of payment, including direct debit.
He said: 'We will be putting support in, even one to one support, for those who need it. We will have meet and greet people at the hall talking people through the changes and will also be sending officers out to speak to people in their homes.'
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He said it cost the council 69p every time somebody paid using cash, whereas direct debit cost the council just over a penny, which would be a major saving for the council.
Mr Morphew added: 'We are suggesting that people can make many of the payments in their banks or at their local post offices, which would give them a boost.'
He said the closure of the cashier hall would be a drawn-out process, possibly taking place in the autumn, with another review in the summer to keep tabs on the progress, and said the council was also looking into the possibility of sending statements to people who might otherwise find it confusing to know how much rent they need to pay.
But Mrs Lubbock said the council should have explored alternatives to shutting the counter, such as making savings by cutting how much is spent on fireworks at council events such as Sparks in the Park.
She said: 'We think people should have choice. We think there are alternatives which would have made those savings and we don't really know if they have been looked at.
'They say people can go to post offices, but we know the provision of post offices in Norwich has been hit and the city is not as well served as it once was.
'We do send a lot of money up in smoke with fireworks, which cost us quite a lot of money, or perhaps we could have a levy on people who do want to pay by cash.'
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