A DROITWICH resident has spoken out over a council decision to slash the opening hours at the town's Community Contact Centre.

As of yesterday (Monday, January 4) the Wychavon District Council-run centre, which is based in Droitwich Library, will be open three days a week between 9.30am and 2pm, compared to 9.30am to 5.30pm previously.

The cutback is being trialled for six months and means customers will have around nine fewer hours during the week to speak face to face with a council employee.

However, a phone has been installed at the Centre which allows residents to make free calls to the council until 5pm from Monday to Friday and a self-service kiosk is also in place.

Tim Bawler, who lives in Barns Croft Way, said: "People who come there tend to be people who are not able to cope with remote access - computers and telephones, they want to come and talk to somebody to help them try and get answers."

At the Contact Centre residents can access a range of council services including paying Council Tax bills, enquiring about housing benefit issues and making general council enquiries.

Mr Bawler continued: "The library is such a community resource. I think having the local council as part of the community is essential and I think this cut is going too far.

"Ideally it would be opening in the morning and for a part and afternoons for a part. I appreciate that might be difficult and costly, but that is just my feeling."

Kath Smith, customer and support services manager at Wychavon District Council, explained the change has come about due to "falling demand" for the centre's resources.

She said: "The number of people using the centre overall has fallen by 34 per cent since 2012/13 with an average of 57 people using it a day. After 2pm, on average fewer than four people an hour use the service.

"These changes have been made on a trial basis and we will listen carefully to any feedback from the public, but we could not justify the cost of having up to three members of staff to serve so few people.

“We remain committed to maintaining a presence in Droitwich and the centre will still be open between 9.30am and 2pm three days a week.

"We’ve also installed a phone, which is free to use to contact us up until 5pm Monday to Friday, while the self-service kiosk remains available so people can make payments and there is also our range of online services."

The Community Contact Centre is now open three days a week between 9.30am to 2pm compared to 9.30am to 5.30pm previously.

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