Controversy over cash counter closure in Mansfield

Mansfield Civic Centre.
Mansfield Civic Centre.

A controversial decision has been made to close the cash counter at Mansfield District Council to help slash costs.

More than £106,000 will be saved when the counter at the Civic Centre is removed this summer, according to Coun Roger Sutcliffe, portfolio holder for resources.

He said: “This is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make.

“We have got to move into the 21st century and look at cost savings and this is one where the majority of customers don’t feel it would seriously affect them and we’ve managed to ensure there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the closure.”

It comes as the council predict tough budget restraints in the coming years, and Coun Sutcliffe said a survey carried out, for which 644 responded, showed little evidence that closing the counter was the wrong decision.

After 27th June, a member of staff will based in central reception to help with queries, but payments will have to be made at 71 Post Office branches and PayPoint locations around the district.

Alternatively, they pay by direct debit, standing order, online via the council’s website and the 24-hour automated telephone line.

The number of phone lines has been doubled from two to four to address the expected increase in those using the 24-hour telephone payment line on 01623 428 632.

But the move has been heavily criticised.

When the issue was discussed at last month’s full council meeting, 28 of 33 councillors voted against the closure, including Coun Andy Wetton.

Speaking to Chad, he said: “It’s an outrageous decision, but I’m not surprised.

“He (Coun Sutcliffe) was in a minority and to say they will save money in the long run is utter rubbish, it won’t save a bean.

“It’s just a slap in the face for the people of Mansfield.”