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Review of Customer Access Points


We asked you to let us know how we could improve the services we offer from our Customer Access Points (CAPs) and your views on our proposal to change the opening hours in four of our least used CAPs.

Following the consultation which ended in March, cabinet have approved the changes in opening hours which will take effect from 1 October 2023. To find out more about the consultation outcomes and the changes, please go to the bottom of this page.

Background

You can contact us in a number of ways:

  • by telephone: our phone lines are open 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 4.30pm on Fridays
  • online: we continue to develop self-serve facilities which are available 24/7, which currently include information and 140 forms
  • self-serve computers: there are self-service computers in CAPs and libraries to help you use our online services
  • face to face: we have a face to face service at County Hall (Durham City) and at eight CAPs (Barnard Castle, Chester-le-Street, Clayport (Durham City), Consett, Crook, Seaham, Spennymoor and Stanley)

What we were considering

Do we need to change locations or the services we offer?

We understand that some customers prefer to travel to our CAPs to speak to us face to face and we remain committed to providing this service for those who need it. 

We were keen to learn from these customers why they prefer this method - are the CAPs in a convenient location or should they be in another council building; and are the services we provide, the services they need from us?

Should we change face to face services in our least used CAPs

As part of this review, we are also proposed changing the opening hours in four of our least used CAPs and we are keen to understand the impacts on our customers if we proceed with this.

Over recent years we have a seen a change in the way customers contact us. There has been a gradual move away from face to face services and now over 90% of residents contact us by phone, email or online self-service. The pandemic has added to this move away. CAPs were closed for 22 months, some residents were shielding, and customers had to contact us in other ways.

Face to face visits have not bounced back following this period and have gone from almost 10,000 visits in April 2019 to just over 2,000 in May 2022. The number of people now using our CAPs vary considerably from 34 customers per week to 302 customers per week. Barnard Castle, Stanley and Consett CAPs have the lowest visitors while Spennymoor and Crook have the highest demand.

The changes we have seen in how people access our services, combined with the financial challenges we face due to government spending reductions, inflation and rising costs, provide us with an opportunity to review our services to ensure we're using our resources as responsibly as possible, in order to maintain services that matter to our residents, particularly those most vulnerable.

Our proposals

In order to make effective use of our resources, we are proposing to reduce the opening hours in four of our least used CAPs. The proposed changes reflect the current usage across each site at different times of the week. There will be no change at present to any of our other CAPs, and the opening hours for libraries in Barnard Castle and Stanley will not change. The proposals are:

CAPCurrent opening hoursProposed new opening hours
Barnard CastleMonday - 10.00am to 5.00pm
Tuesday - 10.00am to 5.00pm
Wednesday - 10.00am to 5.00pm
Thursday - closed
Friday - 10.00am to 4.30pm
Monday 10.00am to 5.00pm
Tuesday - closed
Wednesday - closed
Thursday - closed
Friday - 10.00am to 4.30pm
Chester-le-StreetMonday - 9.00am to 4.00pm
Tuesday - 9.00am to 4.00pm
Wednesday - 9.00am to 4.00pm
Thursday - 9.00am to 4.00pm
Friday - 9.00am to 4.00pm
Monday - closed
Tuesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Wednesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Thursday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Friday - closed
ConsettMonday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Tuesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Wednesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Thursday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Friday - 8.30am to 4.30pm
Monday - closed
Tuesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Wednesday - closed
Thursday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Friday - 8.30am to 4.30pm
StanleyMonday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Tuesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Wednesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Thursday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Friday - 8.30am to 4.30pm
Monday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Tuesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Wednesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Thursday - closed
Friday - closed

Have your say

Tell us why you prefer to travel to CAPs, are they in the best location? Are we offering the right services for you? And what you think about our proposals to reduce opening hours in four of our least used CAPs.

The closing date for comments was 5.00pm on Monday 6 March 2023.

Outcomes of the consultation

We received 396 responses, and most of those said they would prefer for the Customer Access Points (CAP) to be opened five days per week. As we are unable to do that, we looked at the days when we know they are used most, and we listened when you told us you would prefer to have them open on a different day.

Changes following the consultation

  • Barnard Castle CAP: The usage figures show that demand varies slightly across the week. Your feedback was against closing the CAP on Wednesdays so we have changed the opening hours so that Wednesday is still open.
  • Chester-le-Street CAP: you did not ask for any changes to the opening days, however, our latest figures show that Mondays and Fridays are busier, so we have changed those days so that they are still open.
  • Consett CAP: you did not ask for any change to opening days, however, our latest figures show that Mondays are busier than Fridays, so we have changed those days so that Mondays are still open.
  • Stanley CAP: you did not ask for any change to the opening days, however, our latest figures show that Thursdays are a bit busier than Wednesdays, so we have changed those days so that Thursdays are still open.
Customer Access PointsNew opening hours
Barnard CastleMonday closed
Tuesday - closed
Wednesday - 10.00am to 5.00pm
Thursday - closed
Friday - 10.00am to 4.30pm
Chester-le-StreetMonday - closed
Tuesday - closed
Wednesday - 10.00am to 5.00pm
Thursday - closed
Friday - 10.00am to 4.30pm
ConsettMonday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Tuesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Wednesday - closed
Thursday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Friday - closed
StanleyMonday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Tuesday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Wednesday - closed
Thursday - 8.30am to 5.00pm
Friday - closed

You will still be able to make appointments, and you can still get in touch with us by telephone, email, social media, and webchat. We will still also offer extra support for customers with a disability, and those needing language support.