Sunday, July 18, 2010

Neighbourhood Office and Advice

Jon Hunt writes:
The future of the Beeches Road Neighbourhood Office has been under review for some time. Originally it was opened as a walk-in office but as residents know, its hours have increasingly shrunk and talks have been going on for some time about the best way to provide neighbourhood advice services..

As councillors we take a special interest as we hold our weekly advice sessions in the same office on Wednesday nights.

So I was a little shocked to turn up last Wednesday and see notices announcing it would close this Thursday on July 22nd.

I have contacted senior managers and as a result advice workers will continue to work from the office throughout the summer. They will only see residents by appointment however. If you need an appointment please call 303 1111. So final closure will not take place until the autumn.

Three questions to answer, then.
What's happening to advice services?
What's happening to the Beeches Road Neighbourhood Office?
What's happening to our councillors advice bureaux?

Advice services: these will mainly be by appointment in the future.This enables workers to manage their time and ensures no queuing. The advice workers tend to be expert in the benefit and housing system and if you need help with these, please do use their services and call 0121 303 1111 to make an appointment.

The management plan was to create a base at the Old Oscott community centre where advice workers could keep their appointments with local people.

We've said this is not good enough. There needs to be a base in the Beeches Road/Walsall Road area. Many users of services will need to use buses and we don't think Old Oscott is accessible to our constituents.

Beeches Road Neighbourhood Office:
This is a good building and we're pressing for it to be kept in community use. It's right next door to the Trehurst Community Centre, which is currently housed in a container. So that's one possibility.

Councillor Advice Bureau:
We're currently reviewing all our venues - as they all have to change - but intend to keep the same schedule as in the past. That is weekly at 7pm in the Great Barr/Perry Barr area, first Wednesday of the month on the Yew Tree estate at 5.45pm and second Wednesday of the month in Witton - probably back at the refurbished Witton Community Centre.

Because we've been using schools in Witton and Yew Tree, we've not been able to open in the school holidays recently. We're hoping we will be able to offer a holiday-time service soon. But please bear in mind we take holidays too - so we may not be able to open every week.

In the meantime if you want an appointment with a councillor during August please call our office on 303 4204.