Town Hall customer offices to axe counter payments

The Customer First Centre next door to the Town Hall
The Customer First Centre next door to the Town Hall

SCARBOROUGH residents would no longer be able to pay their tax, parking fines or rates at the council, under radical new proposals.

Currently more than 100,000 payments of various kinds are made by householders at the Customer First Centre, alongside the Town Hall in St Nicholas Street.

The changes would mean customers will have to pay council tax and rent bills at Post Offices or at Paypoint in shops across the town.

The system could be introduced across the Scarborough borough as early as February next year.

The council says it hopes to use the Customer First centre to expand its range of different services. The plans would save the council around £43,000 a year in staff wages.

Payments that would be affected by the axing of the current system include:

l council tax

l mortgages

l non-domestic rates

l overpaid housing benefit

l accounts receivable

l parking services (fines and permits)

l And payments to Yorkshire Coast Homes

Cllr Brian Simpson, the authority’s portfolio holder for customer services and safer communities, said the system would offer greater benefits for customers and dispelled fears it could cause problems for older residents in accessing the changes.

He said: “This will give people more options and allow them to pay their bills at times more convenient to themselves so they are not tied to the times of the Customer First centre.

“Supermarkets and post offices are open to the public for a much longer period and freeing up the Customer First centre in this way allows us to give a more comprehensive service.”

He added: “Customers, including pensioners, are used to going into supermarkets and post offices and paying bills now so there shouldn’t be any problems with that.

“It will also give the local businesses a boost by increasing their custom and if that happens then it obviously good for them too.”

A report from Nicola Willis, the council’s head of transformational management, added: “This is a prudent approach and will enable savings while providing capacity to further develop services.

“It will deliver immediate benefits and improvements in service to customers and savings in the longer term as staffing resources are reduced.

“The provision of a service that allows customers to make cash payments through other, non-council outlets and that then provides the payment electronically to the council would be advantageous.”