Labour Group opposes the closure of Thornbury OSS and any reduction in the opening hours at Patchway or Yate OSS. Patchway and parts of Yate are Priority Neighbourhoods and their one stop shop opening hours should not be restricted.
Whilst Thornbury is generally affluent, not all of the users of council services there will be. There is a well-used Food Bank in Thornbury and a not insignificant number of poor, vulnerable and marginalised residents in the area. Data supplied by the council’s Safe Stronger Communities team shows that the Streamleaze/High Street super output area is in the most deprived 40% nationally for multiple deprivation as well as for income, employment and education, skills and training deprivation. Several local super output areas are in the top quintile nationally for barriers to housing and services deprivation, including Oldbury on Severn, Falfield/Whitfield/Morton area, Cromhall/Leyhill/Tortworth area and the rural area around Tytherington.
In addition there are plans for considerable house development in Thornbury which should increase the overall population.
We oppose Option 3, further reducing the staffing level in our Corporate Contact Centre.
Labour Group supports the greater use of digital services where these support enhanced or more efficient public access to council information or services. However, this strategy needs to deliver a smooth migration for the general public rather than ‘pulling the plug’ on existing face-to-face services too hastily.
The Council should identify alternative savings or use some of its reserves to maintain public-facing services whilst it develops its digital strategy. Cuts which focus on delivering direct personal support to the general public should not be pursued before that is in place. We have seen the Conservative Administration pursue some strange priorities and we therefore call into question their whole concept of budget management and prioritisation.