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Council chiefs apologise for announcing decision before consultation started

Council chiefs have been forced to apologise after announcing a neighbourhood office was closing – before consultation had even started. Councillors were shocked when the council posted a message on its website and social media saying the facility at Jordanthorpe would close.

They then received an email from the authority saying the closure ‘had been planned for some time’.

A Facebook message by the council read: “Over recent years, the number of customers using our neighbourhood office at Jordanthorpe has fallen significantly. So, following consultation with customers, we have decided to close the office to the public from Thursday, November 21. This means we can redirect resources into other services that we know our customers value.”

An email to councillors about proposed changes read: “Closure of three housing offices – Jordanthorpe from November 21, Firth Park from January 31 and Lowedges from the end of April

“Slightly reduced opening hours from February at a number of other local housing offices – Chapeltown, Crystal Peaks, Darnall, Lowedges, Manor Library and Stocksbridge. Please note – the closure of Jordanthorpe has been planned for some time and the consultation finished it that area, with the plans now being implemented for that office.”

Councillors were quick to point out that there hadn’t been any consultation, prompting an apology from the director of housing and neighbourhood service, Janet Sharpe.

In an email, Ms Sharpe said: “I would like to apologise for the confusion regarding the proposed consultation with local councillors to discuss reducing services at three local offices where the demand has fallen. At this stage this exercise is to discuss the potential changes with you and seek your views. No formal decision has been made to close any offices or reduce opening times. The intention is to consult with you on the proposals. The recent emails that have been sent to you were to let you know that we wanted to start the consultation with members and also tenant representatives to gather views and opinions on the proposals and what other arrangements could be put in place in the community to ensure tenants have access to the service. We will not make any changes until after the consultation is complete and we have taken into account your views.”

 

Article originally appeared on The Star

The Institute cannot confirm the accuracy of this story or confirm that it presents a balanced view. If you feel this is inaccurate, we would welcome your perspective and evidence that this is the case.

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