Shake-up for Norwich City Council’s neighbourhood offices to save �125,000

People will soon no longer be able to drop into the city council's neighbourhood offices to sort out housing issues and benefits, as City Hall leaders look to save �125,000.

One of the city's six neighbourhood offices is to close completely at the end of this week, while people will have to make appointments before they can visit the others.

The Colman Road office will close its doors for the last time on Friday, while, from June, people will have to book in advance to visit the neighbourhood offices at Pilling Park Road in Thorpe Hamlet; Mansfield Lane in Lakenham; Motum Road in North Earlham; Bullard Road in Catton and the Norman Centre in Bignold Road.

The offices offer a string of services including general housing advice, benefits checking and verification, council tax advice and information on bin collections and recycling.

But a survey has calculated it would cost around �500,000 over the next five years to bring those offices up to a decent standard, while switching to an appointment system would save �125,000.

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Council bosses said the lease at Colman Road runs out at the end of this month and the most recent monthly figures show it only had 125 customers.

Staff will move to City Hall or to other neighbourhood offices.

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Julie Brociek-Coulton, cabinet member for customer services, said: 'We're introducing changes at our neighbourhood offices and in City Hall in response to what people told us about how they prefer to get in touch with the council.

'The clear message was that in-person visits at neighbourhood offices were least preferable when compared to things like using the website, emailing or calling us.

'But by keeping our neighbourhood offices open on an appointment-only basis it means we can still take care of the needs of our most vulnerable residents, as and when they need our services.'

The changes will also mean, from June 6, the customer centre at City Hall will close at its least busy time - Wednesday mornings.

And from that point the council's main phone number 0344 980 3333 will be staffed from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, instead of 6pm, to save �25,000.

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