Dereham library services axed today
Rob GarrattA valuable over-the-counter service at Dereham Library which allows people to inquire about council services such as schools and healthcare will be axed.Rob Garratt
A valuable over-the-counter service at Dereham Library which allows people to inquire about council services such as schools and healthcare has been axed from today,
Norfolk County Council had two staff members on hand in the town library to field public questions about everything from trading standards to adult social care.
But the service was set to be closed down from the beginning of March and instead customers will be given a phone line to County Hall.
Robin Goreham, Labour councillor for Dereham Central, described the decision as 'deeply regrettable'.
He added: 'It's providing a valuable service, and when you provide something people get to rely on it.
'These services are paid for by the public, but the minute money gets tight it's the public who pay the price.'
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The county council has a presence in all Norfolk's libraries. At present Dereham stands alongside Norwich, Aylsham and Gorleston with a fully-staffed Council Information Centre.
However Dereham's service is being downgraded to a basic Council In Your Library service, which simply provides leaflets and an over-the-phone service.
Mr Goreham also raised fears there would be strain on Dereham Town Council and the Citizens Advice Bureau with a surge of extra inquiries.
County Hall's customer relation manager Louise Cumberland said fewer than 10 ten people use the service a day, compared with 24 in Norwich and around 16 in Gorleston and Aylsham.
She added: 'In general we've come to a decision that if it is fewer than 10 inquiries a day then it wasn't good value.'
One of the factors in this is that district authority services, such as bin collection advice and parking permits, are not offered by Breckland Council at the help point - where other district councils do offer library services.
Both staff employed at the library will be redeployed, Ms Cumberland added.