Wrexham Council set to axe town centre cash collection office

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

WREXHAM Council intends to press ahead with a controversial plan to axe its main cash collection office in the town centre.

At their meeting on Tuesday, members of the executive board will be asked by officers to approve the closure of the Lambpit Street centre from next April in a bid to save its £80,000-a-year running costs.

The move will help the authority towards its target of pruning £30 million from its budget over the next three years.

The authority claims there are now more efficient ways for people to make payments, including rent and council tax, such as direct debit, automated phone systems and online. It also says less than 10 per cent of payments to the council are now made in cash, with this figure dropping each year.

If councillors decide to approve the closure next spring, during the early part of the year the council says it will work with people still intending to make cash payments to find other ways of doing this.

Mark Owen, the chief finance and performance officer, said: “Payment cards would be issued to the small percentage of people who do not have access to a bank account. This would in turn support local shops and post offices in the region.”

Mr Owen has rejected claims by the union Unison, which represents council staff, that the closure of Lambpit Street would increase the danger of loan sharks preying on vulnerable people.

In a report, the union’s Steve Hibbert says: “The central housing office relies on the main cash office to take payments from those in debt in order to avoid costly eviction proceedings.

“Most of the tenants in such difficulty have multiple debts and are often victims of loan sharks.

“Sending such people to the post office in order to make an agreed payment is likely to result in the payments not being made at all as it is likely the promised money will be used for other essentials.”

But Mr Owen said: “The specific issue of loan sharks raised by Unison is not accepted.

“The council will be offering changes in payment methods which will reduce the risk of loan sharks targeting individuals as they will be able to pay by direct debit, on the internet, over the telephone or by post.”

See full story in the Leader

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