Cash-strapped Chesterfield council’s customer service centre relocation aims to save hundreds of thousands of pounds

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Council chiefs are set to open a new Chesterfield Customer Service Centre at the Town Hall after it was relocated as part of plans to save hundreds of thousands of pounds in a further effort to reduce a £4m budget deficit.

Chesterfield Borough Council approved the proposal at a full council meeting on July 19 to move the centre from its current location on New Square, in the town centre, to the council’s Town Hall building on Rose Hill and it is due to be opened on Wednesday December 20.

Councillor Gavin Baldauf-Good, cabinet member for customers and business transformation, said: “Recent increases in the costs of energy, goods and services have placed a significant pressure on local authority budgets and as a result, officers have been undertaking a review of our premises to identify where possible changes could be made – and moves such as this will help us to achieve this.”

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Chesterfield Borough Council is facing an estimated budget shortfall forecast of £4m in 2024/25 which it has blamed on the impact of Covid-19 and high inflation, and financial difficulties are expected to increase in future years along with possible, further cost-saving measures by the council.

Pictured Is Chesterfield Town Hall, On Rose Hill, The Home Of Chesterfield Borough CouncilPictured Is Chesterfield Town Hall, On Rose Hill, The Home Of Chesterfield Borough Council
Pictured Is Chesterfield Town Hall, On Rose Hill, The Home Of Chesterfield Borough Council

The council previously estimated that relocating the Customer Service Centre could result in annual savings of up to £132,000 through a reduction in running costs particularly if the original building is subsequently sold or rented.

It also claims that if the Customer Service Centre remained at the New Square building it would require significant repairs and maintenance over the next five years that could cost £790,000.

Council members also approved further funding of £157,000 to be incorporated into the council’s capital programme to support the move so customer facilities can be provided at the Town Hall.

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The original centre was opened in 2013 offering council services including revenues and benefits, licensing, housing and cashiering and customer services which will all be relocated with the move to the ground floor of the Town Hall.

It is also hoped that the move will allow customers to access more public services in one location including all council revenue and benefits services, as well as licensing, planning, environmental services and housing services, alongside the Chesterfield Register Office, and the Chesterfield Coroner’s Office and Court on the ground floor of the Town Hall.

Members of the public can also access Links CVS, Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centre and the Derbyshire Law Centre at the Town Hall.

However, payment machines were removed from the Customer Service Centre, on November 27, and they will not be relocated to the Town Hall but the council stated that residents will be able to pay by cash or cards for council services using PayPoint facilities in shops or by using the Post Office network.

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There are five locations in Chesterfield town centre that can be used to pay cash for council services, according to the council which is also directing people to the website link to access more information on the different ways payments can be made.

Moving services to a single building is also expected to reduce the council’s carbon emissions and energy use, supporting its ambition to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2030.

Councillor Baldauf-Good added: “Providing excellent, value for money customer services is a key priority for the council, and this move will bring more services under one roof. Residents and businesses can access a wide range of council services, alongside other functions provided by partner organisations.

“The relocation comes with wider benefits too, including a reduction in our energy use and carbon emissions and lower building and maintenance costs.

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“Like other local authorities across the country, the council is facing extreme pressures on its budgets, due to a variety of factors outside of our control.”

The relocated Customer Service Centre will be based on the ground floor of the Town Hall and will be accessed from the main front steps or from a side entrance.

Opening hours will remain the same, meaning residents can access the Customer Service Centre between 9am and 2pm, on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and between 10am and 2pm on a Wednesday.

Residents will still be able to access services from the current Customer Services Centre, at 85 New Square, until the move takes place on December 20.

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The council has previously stated that it aims to possibly sell or lease the New Square building in accordance with its Town Centre Master Plan for possible office, health, food, drink, leisure or educational uses.