Four council-run local centres are set to be closed down within weeks – with residents told to visit facilities in neighbouring towns.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council plans to close its customer service centres in Chell Heath, Burslem, Norton and Meir as part of an ‘asset maximisation’ programme.
While some of the centres were already earmarked for closure, it was previously indicated that services could be relocated in alternative premises nearby.
Now the council is set to approve the closures at a 2020/21 budget meeting this afternoon.
Council leaders say there is ‘diminishing demand for service requests’ at the four locations. Payments to the council, which make up the bulk of transactions at the centres, can be made in other ways, such as at PayPoints in nearby shops.
Latest figures for the council’s 11 local centres – between January and March last year – reveal:
- Tunstall Local Centre had 6,230 transactions;
- Norton Local Centre had 978 transactions;
- Chell Local Centre had 5,932 transactions;
- Burslem Local Centre had 3,830 transactions;
- Stoke Local Centre had 8,232 transactions;
- Smithfield Local Centre, in Hanley, had 8,276 transactions;
- Bentilee Local Centre had 8,973 transactions;
- Abbey Hulton Local Centre had 5,298 transactions;
- Meir Local Centre had 1,059 transactions;
- Longton Local Centre had 9,051 transactions;
- Blurton Local Centre had 3,076 transactions.
The budget proposal is expected to save £155,000-a-year and result in five job losses.
But that is no consolation to residents in Norton who now face having to travel to Tunstall to use their local centre.
Retired pottery worker Audrey Sheldon, who lives next door to the local centre, said: “A lot of people use it. You go there if you need anything and somebody is always bobbing in and out of there. My mate once went for a lock on the door and somebody went round there the same day.”
Retired Pete Meir, aged 67, said: “It won’t be good if they close it.”