Housing services in South Tyneside to be relocated to South Shields Town Hall as face-to-face service removed

The services are all being moved to South Shields Town Hall.
The services are all being moved to South Shields Town Hall.

Council tenants in South Tyneside are set to see changes to the way they can access housing services as a face-to-face counter service is removed.

South Tyneside Homes staff will soon be withdrawn from five venues in the borough, and relocated to South Shields Town Hall.

There will no longer be a daily face-to-face service offered, with tenants having previously been able to speak to staff at Boldon Village Hall, Landreth House, Marsden Road Health Centre, Hebburn Central and Jarrow Town Hall, as well as South Shields Town Hall.

Council bosses say customer services are being remodelled as only 18% of customer transactions take place face-to-face.

They also say that housing offices have seen a drop in footfall of almost a third over the last two years, with an increase in the use of online services and a 24-hour payment line.

Over the coming months, South Tyneside Homes back office staff will be relocated to South Shields Town Hall - but no daily face-to-face services will be offered there either.

Coun Ed Malcolm, chair of South Tyneside Homes’ Board, said: “There has been a significant drop in the number of people using our area offices over recent years.

“In Landreth House for example, footfall has decreased by as much as 75 per cent in some months.

“The way people choose to interact with us is changing and we need to adapt our services to suit our customers whilst ensuring best value for money.

“There will be a range of different contact options, including live chat, email and text.

"Ahead of services being withdrawn, we will be providing drop-in sessions where staff will show people how to use online services, how to book a repair, where to ring for advice and discuss any other concerns they may have.”

Services will be withdrawn from Boldon Village Hall on August 4, followed by Landreth House and Marsden Road Health Centre on August 31.

Hebburn Central and Jarrow Town Hall will have their services removed on September 30, and South Shields Town Hall will follow on October 31.

A range of services will be carried out across the borough for customers who need additional support.

There will also be a number of alternative contact methods, including live chat, home visits, email, text, Facebook and Twitter.

Tenants will also be able to get in touch over the phone on freephones which will be staffed between 8am and 6.30pm on weekdays.

They will be installed at Marsden Road Health Centre, Hebburn Central and Jarrow and South Shields Town Halls.

Coun Malcolm added: “We continue to face government cutbacks to our funding but this is not about reducing services, it is about sustaining them in different and more innovative ways and making sensible use of the funds we have.

“We appreciate this is a difficult time for the staff concerned and discussions with them are ongoing.

“All have been offered early retirement, voluntary redundancy or redeployment elsewhere in the organisation.”