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Aylesham and Sandwich Dover District Council offices to close and future of Deal one uncertain

By Sam Lennon

Two council area offices are facing closure and the future of a third hangs in the balance.

Dover District Council’s cabinet on Monday agreed to shut the Aylesham and Sandwich face-to-face customer service centres this year, probably by the autumn.

They are being axed because of decreasing numbers of walk-in customers.

Deal library

Deal library. The town's district area office is here.

Officers also recommended the closure of the Deal office but councillors voted to ask for further information on usage there and discuss it again in September.

These are satellite district council sites for transactions such as benefits, usually housing, and council tax payments.

A council officers’ report said: “Overall footfall is reducing as more and more people are choosing to contact us by telephone or online.

“We have gathered an advanced level of customer insight and research, which has been pivotal in bringing us to this point of questioning the need for face-to-face customer services at these offices.

“There are rarely queues in these offices, Many of the enquires can be dealt with in other ways.”

Sandwich Guildhall

Sandwich Guildhall. The district area office inside is earmarked for closure

The most likely closure date for Aylesham and Sandwich is September.

The original proposal had been to close the Deal centre in October.

The closure of all three centres would provide a saving of £22,500 in 2017/18 followed by annual savings of £45,000.

The officers’ report says that at present about 10 customers a week use the Aylesham base, at Aylesham Health Centre in Queens Road.

Meanwhile, 75 people a week use the Sandwich one at the Guildhall, and 220 people use the Deal one at Deal Library in Broad Street.

The report says that customers are being helped to access services in other ways and awareness of phone and online services is being raised.

It adds that there is a new digital benefits system so that people can submit or alter their claims day and night and upload documents.

This negates the need for people to bring documents to offices to be copied.

It adds that for exceptional cases clients could be visited in their own homes for help in their transactions.



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