Elderly 'to be hit hard' by Shropshire Council customer service closures
Older people would be the worst affected under Shropshire Council proposals to close nine of the county’s customer service points, according to Age UK.
The Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin branch of the charity is calling on people to take part in a consultation about the potential closures.
Shropshire Council is proposing closing customer service points in Albrighton, Bishop’s Castle, Broseley, Church Stretton, Cleobury Mortimer, Ellesmere, Shifnal and Wem. It also wants to reduce the hours at the six main officers in Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Ludlow, Bridgnorth, Whitchurch and Market Drayton.
But Heather Osborne, chief executive of Age UK STW, said older people who live in rural areas would be hit the hardest.
She said: “While we appreciate the need for the council to save money, if it goes ahead and closes these offices around the county it will be older people who live rurally who will be hardest hit.
“These are the people who already struggle to access services due to poor public transport.
"If an older person living in Bishop’s Castle wants to speak to someone about their council tax then it is a long way to have to travel into Shrewsbury.
“It’s all very well saying that there will be public access to computers but many older people do not know how to use computers and therefore can’t access services digitally.
"If a person is frail or vulnerable, or living with dementia, they really benefit from speaking to someone face to face and sorting out their issues.”
Financial challenges and government spending cuts have been blamed for the proposed closures across the county, and a drop in the number of people using the service.
But Miss Osborne raised further concerns that the cuts would put added pressure on charities.
She said: “Local charities such as ours are already feeling the strain from an increased demand on our services as local authorities reduce their funding.
"Our information and advice service has seen a year on year increase in the number of older people we support.
“I would urge everyone to take part in the consultation and tell the council that they don’t want to lose these rural services.”