Public force delay to contact centre moves

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PLANS to bring council contact centre services, libraries and some Registrar services all under one roof in towns across the Borders are being mulled over by council officials now that the views of local people have been received but they are delaying putting forward the report to councillors because of some of the issues raised by members of the public.

“It has been decided to delay the consideration of the ‘Contact Centre/Library Integration and Library Restructure’ report in order to further examine the feedback from the public and community councils,” said Jenni Craig, SBC’s head of customer services.

She added: “We had planned to take this report to admin policy working group and then council next week (October 25). However, a range of issues identified through the consultation process have not yet been fully assessed and we would prefer to take more time to consider how these may be addressed.

“Following this work we will arrange to bring the revised proposal to the council for consideration.”

Scottish Borders Council are looking at integrating services in Duns, Jedburgh, Kelso, Innerleithen, Coldstream, Melrose and Selkirk.

Duns was due to be the first town to get an integrated library, contact centre and registrar service in the library building in Newtown Street and the merger was expected to be ready to go ahead by April next year.

Duns Community Council has expressed concern about the proposed internal layout of the library, although they are not opposed to the principle of integrating the services.

Coldstream Community Council are happy to see the plans go ahead as it will mean that by bringing the contact centre services into the library they will be available in the town four days a week, rather than the one day a week as they are now. The Coldstream services will be open 12 hours a week on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday if the proposed plans get the go ahead - the library is currently open 13 hours a week across five days and the contact centre is open on a Friday only.

Since the council stopped accepting cash payments at their contact centres they have seen a 90 per cent reduction in the use of the centres and Ms Craig indicated that people are using the telephone and council website, customers saying that telephone is their preferred option for contacting the council.

“Contact centres on their own aren’t going to survive, they need to be integrated with something else,” said Ms Craig.

““The proposal which is being considered for Duns is that the contact centre and the registrar will move along to the library.

“Duns has been prioritised due to the close location of the current services, the minimal work required to accommodate all the services in the current library building and the further opportunities which arise from the contact centre and registrar vacating their current accommodation.”

Mid Berwickshire councillor Frances Renton is in favour of integrating the services saying: “I believe this is the best way forward to keep both services within the town, and also there will be some advantages such as the contact services being open a couple of nights a week and also being open on a Saturday morning, and the library service would be open over lunch time on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

However, she is aware that there could be concerns in how all the services will be housed in one building in Duns and is waiting to see the final proposals that will come to the full council.