Horncastle residents urge ELDC not to cut vital services

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More than 500 residents of Horncastle and district are urging East Lindsey District Council not to make further cuts to a vital ‘face to face’ service in Horncastle.

They fear that further reducing the opening hours of the customer access point (CAP) located in Horncastle Library, will affect the most vulnerable people in Horncastle and district.

A campaign to highlight the problems that council cuts will cause, has resulted in hundreds of supporters signing a petition to stop the cuts going ahead.

Bill Anderson launched the petition. He said: “This is a very strange proposal, coming from servants of the community, who propose measures which would knowingly and adversely affect the most vulnerable members of our community, particularly the elderly, the hard of hearing and those who struggle with reading and writing, using the telephone or completing and understanding forms.”

He added: “Is this a sign of a caring council?”

ELDC states that footfall has dropped at Horncastle CAP since 2013/14, and suggests that more people are using the internet and phone.

In fact, footfall has dropped - at the same time opening hours were cut at Horncastle and Tattershall CAPs.

Mr Anderson said: “No surprise there. Less availability equals a drop in numbers.”

“ELDC claims more people are keen to use the internet and phone and that is apparently based on a mere 360 people responding a survey conducted by its 2015 Citizens’ Panel survey.”

“The population of East Lindsey District Council is over 136.000 and we have a much greater percentage of people in this part of the district, saying, do not do this.”

“It is simply untrue to suggest people ‘are keen’ to use the internet and the phone.”

“It is a fact that only a quarter of older people have access to the internet and many do not have the confidence to use the phone.

“And for those who do use the phone, I have heard time after time complaints that they have had to wait a long time to get through to ELDC,” Mr Anderson stated.

“They rely on their local contact point for help.”

As well as reducing the hours at Horncastle CAP, ELDC is planning to cut or shut nearby access points at Woodhall Spa, Tattershall, Alford and Spilsby.

One of the options being put forward by ELDC would result in Horncastle being the only CAP open on Thursdays, serving the whole of East Lindsey District Council area.

Mr Anderson said: “How will Horncastle CAP cope with the influx of people wanting to see someone face to face?”

“Where are those people who will be excluded, expected to go for help?”

• Read the full story in this week’s upcoming edition of Horncastle News (June 8).