ELDC centres could face the axe or have their hours slashed in bid to save cash

Customer Access Point
Customer Access Point

A number of district council-run Customer Access Points and Tourism Information Centres could be axed - and opening hours at others slashed - in the latest in a raft of cost-cutting measures.

East Lindsey District Council currently spends £730,000 a year providing Customer Access Points/Tourist Information Centres, which offer a range of services including benefit advice and council tax payments.

However, we can reveal ELDC is proposing to close as many as five centres - and reduce the opening hours at others - even though they offer a lifeline to many residents.

The cash-strapped council has drawn up two proposals which would see services transferred to call centres and an online operation.

There are currently 11 CAPs/TICs in the district at Louth, Alford, Manby, Holton Le Clay, Mablethorpe, Horncastle, Woodhall Spa, Tattershall/Coningsby, Spilsby, and Skegness.

Community Access Points in Louth, Mablethorpe, Skegness and Horncastle would see their opening hours reduced - either by 43 per cent under ‘Proposal A’ or by 73 per cent under ‘Proposal B’.

Alford’s CAP and Holton le Clay’s CAP would see their hours slashed under one proposal - or axed altogether under the other.

Whatever happens, the centre at Manby will close and become a reception for visitors to ELDC’s headquarters only, while the centre at Woodhall Spa could be transferred to the Cottage Museum where it would come under a ‘local management scheme.’

The future of the Tattershall/Coningsby facility was under threat because of doubts about the ongoing availability of the site at the Barnes Wallis Academy.

It is understood the first proposal would save ELDC £150,000 in 2017/18 and £205,000 each year thereafter. The second proposal would save £168,000 in 2017/18 and £217,000 each year thereafter.

It is not clear how many jobs would be at risk.

ELDC is looking at various cost-cutting measures after leader Coun Craig Leyland admitted the authority needs to save £6m over the next four years.

It follows a substantial reduction in the amount of money ELDC receives from central Government.

In a statement, the council confirmed the future of some Access Points and Information Centres was in doubt but pointed to a significant reduction in footfall.

A public consultation programme on the proposed changes will run until June 17 at 5pm.

ELDC’s Portfolio Holder for Partnerships, Coun Graham Marsh, said: “The expectations of our customers are changing as is the way they access services.

“While we recognise there is still a need for Customer Access Points in some locations, customer feedback so far is telling us residents wish to do more over the telephone and online so it makes sense to consider shifting resources in that direction, whilst also being able to deliver a significant saving for taxpayers.

“I’d encourage residents to take part in this important consultation.”

• Visit: www.e-lindsey.gov.uk/consultation to have your say or visit a Customer Access Point.