Shropshire Council is planning cuts of 25% to the opening hours of the customer service desks in Ludlow Library. The cuts, from 40 to 30 hours a week, were revealed in a consultation published this morning. The proposals follow a 60% drop in the numbers of people obtaining advice face to face over the last five years.

august_customers_2012-16Service point customers in August for Ludlow

ludlow_customers_by_hour_1q_2016Customers in 1st quarter of 2016

The customer service points across the county supply a wide range of advice on benefits, council tax, parking permits, bus passes, and waste and recycling. Currently the service in Ludlow is open from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday. The council is proposing to change this to a rather mixed bag of hours: Mon-Wed 10am-4pm, Thurs 9:30am-4pm, Fri 10am-3:30pm.

Residents are changing the way that we interact with customer services. We do more online. But I am concerned that cuts to hours could mean that some people won’t get the attention they need to deal with their problems.

The council should recognise that we have an older community here in Ludlow. Many elderly people are not confident using the Internet and some aren’t online at all. We will need to monitor the new arrangements carefully to ensure that people are not disadvantaged by the cuts.

I certainly don’t think the proposed opening hours are right. They vary by day of the week. It would be easier for residents if the customer services desks were open the same times every weekday.

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