People in Buckinghamshire will be able to visit an expanded range of locations for face to face information and advice on services of the new Buckinghamshire Council from April next year.
At a meeting held last week, the Shadow Executive for the new council looked at how residents will be able to get on the spot access to council services through a network of local bases called Council Access Points, supporting the new unitary council to be close to its communities and making it simpler for people to get the information and support they need.
When the new Buckinghamshire Council comes into being on 1 April 2020, Buckinghamshire residents will be able to access information, advice and support on a range of topics near where they live or work. The Council Access Points (CAPs) will be based at the heart of local community life in existing buildings throughout Buckinghamshire.
Residents will be able to get face to face help on the spot from staff in locations they currently use to access council services. Staff will be on hand to guide people, signpost them to help, support them with online services and in some locations discuss more complex issues.
Five ‘Access Plus’ centres, located in the current council offices in the county’s main towns, will offer extra services from Monday to Friday for residents who have more complex enquiries.
Other Council Access Points will operate from existing buildings, such as libraries, spread across the county stretching from Buckingham in the north to Burnham in the south. The locations of these will be confirmed and promoted as part of the launch preparations for Buckinghamshire Council which will go live in April 2020.
Once the Council Access Points are up and running, Buckinghamshire Council will start work on the next phase. The ambition is to evolve the access points to create wider one-stop community hubs based in multi-purpose buildings at the heart of community life.
Residents will ideally be able to access information about a wide range of topics, enjoy a social space and get support from different services such as the police, town and parish councils, visitor services and community groups all in one place. We will ask residents and communities to help co-design these facilities to meet local needs.
Cllr Martin Tett, Leader of the Shadow Executive said: “Whilst we’re seeing a lot more people access our services online, we know that sometimes our residents need to speak to someone face to face. Having access points dotted across the county will mean that people will be able to speak to someone to get the help and advice they need, close to where they live. It’s really important that the new council doesn’t become distant from its communities so it makes absolute sense to use existing places like council offices and libraries that people are used to visiting, to provide local support and advice for those who need it.”