Northumberland Labour Group have problems supporting the administrations Customer Services Strategy report being placed before the Councils Executive on Tuesday 3rd July 2012 by Councillor Neil Bradbury.
The report has been sold to the public and members of the Council not by consultation but through news reports likening it with South Tyneside's partnership with British Telecom by Councillor Andrew Tebbutt, who is leading on the privatisation of public services across Northumberland.
The report also indicates the Councils intention to move over to additional e-contact.
Northumberland has been serviced through a series of one stop shops formed by the outgoing District Councils prior to 2008. They ensure face to face contact with the public is maintained and that people could meet with advisors who would help them through their problems with reporting highways/street lighting/streetscene repairs, Setting up and taking payments for Council tax and the very difficult task of self identification for housing benefit and Council tax relief.
Labour Group leader Councillor Grant said " South Tyneside has developed an excellent facility in partnership with BT but they are very small Authority with some of the best transport links in Europe into South Shields with Metro, Bus and Ferry Services running close by the Harton Quay site. People both workers and the public can quite easily access their centre. Northumberland is similar in size to Southern Cyprus and our population need to maintain contact with us on a face to face basis therefore Andrew Tebbut's analogy that we should develop a similar partnership is flawed."
"It is the intention of the coalition Government that 85% of contact with public bodies should be through e-engagement by 2013, Northumberland has one of the largest out of balance populations nationally, with a much larger than average aging population. This make e-engagement and call centre operations difficult as most of this age group wish to talk face to face with their Council."