"Please see below a news release that we will be issuing later today, setting out a change of approach to the Customer Services Review.
Thank you to all Councils which contacted us with comments, this has helped shape our forward thinking.
Leader, The Highland Council
Thursday 6 March 2014
Council to adopt new approach to Customer Services review
The Highland Council is responding to concerns raised by customers and community groups regarding proposed changes to Service Points by clarifying its approach to its Customer Service Review. At its meeting on Thursday 13 March, Council Leader Drew Hendry will propose that over the next 15 months the Council gives communities a direct input into the process through a rolling consultation. A cross-party working group will be established to consider the future of each Service Point on a location-by-location basis.
Councillor Drew Hendry, Council Leader, said: “We have spoken with community councils and local groups and it is clear that the benefits of the changes could have been communicated better. I believe the review will not only achieve its savings target but will create a more sustainable network and a better service for customers.
“There are concerns that communities have not been able to feed into the process and have not been given the chance to see how the changes will work out. They need to have confidence that the 21st century solution we are proposing is suitable and effective for their communities. We are listening and will provide a mechanism built into the review to ensure local involvement.”
Councillor Dave Fallows, Chairman of the Finance, Housing & Resources Committee, added: “The Customer Service Review is intended to create services which are fit for purpose and we recognise that some communities haven’t felt included. It is essential that, where communities have concerns, they are able to work with the Council to overcome those concerns. The mechanism we are proposing for the review will make that happen.”
The Council has also reiterated its three pledges:
that there will be no compulsory redundancies;
that there will be no change to local services until the alternative provision is in place; and
that every resident who wants or needs a face-to-face appointment will have one.
"To all Community Councils:- An update on the Service Point Closures
I understand a Press Release has been issued to Service Point staff. The information is not clear and is contradictory, but we think it does not change any of the initial decisions about Service Point closures nor the negative effect and uncertainty about services and the future of our staff.
The decision of the previous FHR Committee still stands and we understand that the Administration will be submitting an Amendment to the Highland Council Meeting on 13th March, which we will not be entitled to see prior to the meeting.
We do not wish this latest step to be merely a fudge, or be a subject of political spin when so much is at stake for our communities. We are looking for the Administration to change the closures decision, and be absolutely clear about what they intend to do on this issue.
We are talking about £80k per annum to save the Service Points. It will cost far more to administer a face to face facility via the proposed outreach service.
Leader, Independent Group