Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DURHAM TIMES to 80360 or email us
New council office for Durham city centre
A NEW "one-stop" council office costing £210,000 was officially opened on Tuesday.
Durham County Council’s new Durham City Customer Access Point (CAP), next to Clayport Library, on Millennium Place, was declared open by council chairman Linda Marshall, who unveiled a plaque at a lunchtime ceremony.
The office replaces the council’s previous facility on Claypath, but has more services. It is in offices formerly occupied by regeneration outfit Durham City Vision, which was effectively wound up in March.
Councillor Marshall said the CAP was splendid and would be the ‘place to be’ for customers.
The council was constantly striving to improve services – a major challenge but one the authority was relishing and on the way to winning, she added.
Visitors to the office can expect information and advice on the following services: housing and council tax benefits, bus passes, highways, council tax, waste and recycling, planning and building
control, housing solutions and Durham City Homes.
As well as face-to-face services, there will be a ‘telly talk’ unit to allow visitors to talk to a council officer via a video link.
Clayport Library, the council’s flagship library, has also been given a new reception desk.
It’s fantastic at a time when we’re experiencing significant grant reductions that we’re able to make this investment.Terry Collins
The CAP will be open during normal office hours, with eight staff, but Terry Collins, the council’s corporate director of neighbourhood services, said it was hoping to extend this to match the library’s opening hours.
"It’s fantastic at a time when we’re experiencing significant grant reductions that we’re able to make this investment.
"This major project has seen not only the relocation of the CAP to an improved facility but also an extensive refurbishment of all three floors of Clayport library, bringing council services in the city together under one roof in a convenient and accessible location," Mr Collins said.
The council is a year into a four-year overhaul of its offices. Consett Civic Centre has closed, Crook Civic Centre has been refurbished and CAPs have opened in Seaham, Stanhope and Consett. The shake-up is expected to cost about £8m but council chiefs hope to recoup more than this by selling redundant sites.