Friday, 23 October 2009

Tories abandon commitment to longer opening hours for Launceston One Stop Shop

The Conservatives who lead Cornwall Council have backed down on a commitment from the Council's Chief Executive to extend the opening hours of Launceston One Stop Shop.

Back in June, Chief Exec Kevin Lavery described the One Stop Shops as the vital link between the public and the Council and he pledged to extend the opening hours so that local residents can access services at weekends and in the evenings. At present Launceston One Stop Shop is only open from 8.45am until 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.45am until 4.30pm on a Friday. The staff there do a fantastic job and always have lots of visitors. It is quite clear that the service is well-used and liked.

I couldn't have agreed more with Mr Lavery and have therefore been pressing the Council since June to tell me when the longer opening hours would be introduced.

Finally, yesterday, I got a reply from Lance Kennedy, the Conservative Councillor in charge of the One Stop Shop service.

Cllr Kennedy told me that he has backed down from the longer hours commitment. Instead there will be a survey of the use of each One Stop Shop and this will determine whether longer opening hours are needed.

The trouble is that I don't know what a survey will show. If it finds that the service is well used, does that mean that it will be even better used if it is open longer? Or does it mean that everybody who needs it already has access? On the other hand, if it is poorly used, does that indicate that longer hours are needed or that the service is a waste of time?

I think that the Council should have the courage of its convictions and open the service into the evenings and (particularly) at weekends as soon as possible. And then it needs to make sure that local people know that they can access the full range of council services there.

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