Councillor tells of senior citizens in tears over closure of cash office

General / Sat 8th Apr 2023 at 10:35am

A SENIOR Labour councillor has expressed his concern over the closure of the cash office at Harlow Council’s Water Gardens offices.

In what was his last appearance as a councillor, Bob Davis asked the following question:

Councillor Bob Davis to Councillor Stacy Seales (Portfolio Holder for Governance):

“I am advised that the cash office in the Civic Centre is to close on 28th April. There is a small notice to this effect on the Cash Office window ledge listing a decline in use of the office as the reason for closure. Is this the reason for closure and what measures other than the small notice have been taken to inform residents of this decision.

Reply from Councillor Stacy Seales (Portfolio Holder for Governance):

The use of the cash office facility has been declining since it was shut for a number of months during the pandemic. That period of closure has shown that Harlow residents have adopted alternative methods of payment, online, phone and by using payments cards available for free from the Council. Online and telephone payments are significantly easier for residents and at a lower cost to the taxpayer.The facility will close at the end of April. Staff have been redeployed into our contact centre with no loss of jobs.Members of the public are being assisted to use alternative methods of payment going forward and this is part of a coordinated effort with our Council Tax and rent teams. They are working directly with the few residents still paying in this way to ensure that they can use one of our many alternative options available for making payments, including:

  • Direct Debit
  • Online via our website www.harlow.gov.uk
  • Using our 24 automated payment line 01279 446600
  • Internet banking
  • Standing OrderCorrespondence sent to residents on ways to pay has been updated to reflect the available methods to pay and any resident presenting themselves at the contact centre will be likewise supported.
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11 Comments for Councillor tells of senior citizens in tears over closure of cash office:

Adam Taylor
2023-04-08 11:01:35

Cash is legal tender the only actual kind the rest is just bank credit the council must continue to take cash

2023-04-08 12:24:46

The trouble with shutting a cash face to face service is that many people mistrust any online or remote services, they are increasingly confusing to use and there's scams and crooks at every turn.

gary roberts
2023-04-08 13:28:49

It is always interesting to read the replies from Cllr. Seales and this is no different. For example, "The use of the cash office facility has been declining since it was shut for a number of months during the pandemic." Well I never. If the cash facility is closed people would have to find other ways to pay their bills on threat of legal action, eviction or prison. And it goes against the pledge made by the former Conservative group leader in 2020 that, they would invest more in community value by "commissioning new community services" in the town. So if residents' were told this by the incoming council what happened to this pledge? In my Ward they need locally based council services including the option to pay their council bills. And if Cllr. Davis has constituents crying because of the closure of this cash facility it clearly indicates not only a breach in the pledge but also little knowledge on the needs of residents in this town. It would also indicate why the former council office in Potter Street has been closed for over twenty years. A disgrace was the more mild phrases used by people I spoke to over many years. Indeed not even a very big local petition could stop the closure of this office and based on the reply from Cllr. Seales it will remain closed for years to come. It is a disgrace.

Mark Gough
2023-04-08 13:36:56

I always believe it should be as easy as possible for residents to pay money to the Council. Closing the Council desk is a ridiculous idea frankly. I have always believed that the Council should have a deal with the Post Office. This gives local Post Offices additional business to keep them open, and gives local convenient places for Residents to make payments. Mark Gough - Reform UK

Mark Gough
2023-04-08 13:41:41

I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Bob Davis myself. I have during my periods on the Council worked with Bob on various committees. He is always affable, friendly, jovial and a paragon of common sense. As a Resident in his ward I have sent people to him and they have all said the same. Bob, we'll miss you, enjoy your retirement, and hopefully your seat will be safe - in my hands! Grin! Best regards, Mark Gough - Reform UK

Mike smith
2023-04-08 14:44:37

I barely use cash now, all card transactions, people will just have to adapt im afraid

Nicholas Taylor
2023-04-08 14:56:17

I believe I am right in saying Mike that closing the cash office also means that you cannot pay by card either. What is happening now adds to a long list of changes made so that the council have no personal, face to face contact with the public, just as the same politicians moan about the lack of face to face contacts with doctors. In 2002 the office at the Stow was closed for the same reason, the fact was however, up to 200 people a day were using the office. Things may have changed for many but there are still those who prefer face to face contact when requiring ab explanation about their bills.

Luke Burton
2023-04-08 15:05:29

We mustn't marginalise those unable or unwilling to pay using these more modern methods. Cash is an important tool for budgeting for many people, and given Harlow is quite impoverished, I'd imagine closing such a facility is going to be more detrimental to the town than councillors are letting on.

Toni Garstang
2023-04-08 22:25:15

maybe if they opened it back up properly as normal like most important places did after the pandemic then people would have used it, each time I went there a security guard was stopping people going in, even after covid, this is a lame excuse to shut the cash office, many people rely on it but have been getting help during the pandemic to use the automated lines, it's not good for this the shut and whoever made this decision clearly doesnt have issues using these services.

Lesley Days
2023-04-09 09:55:54

They are saying people aren’t going in topay I went in twice to pay and it was closed it should stay open or set up at post office so we can pay cash for rents there plus it gets old people out and chance to chat with others but as usual us oldies are the forgotten people

Shaun Andrews
2023-04-09 13:18:30

I fail to see how closing a payment option makes it easier for the customer, simply put, it doesn't. I think sometimes the council forget they work for us and not the other way around.

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