Times they are a changing: Opening hours cut at Fenland’s one-stop shops
OPENING hours are to be cut at Fenland’s one-stop shops in a bid to trim �190,000 a year from dwindling council budgets.
A report to Fenland District Council said a public consultation “indicated that residents deem provision of our High Street based shops as less important than other issues”.
March’s one-stop shop, which currently opens Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm, will now only open from 9am-4pm on weekdays, except Thursday when it will close.
Wisbech’s shop, which was the most used in Fenland last year with almost 70,000 visitors, will continue to open on Thursdays but it will also have its weekday hours cut to 9am-4pm.
Chatteris and Whittlesey’s shops will now be closed on Fridays as well as Wednesdays, with opening times 9am-4pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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Saturday’s opening hours, from 9am-noon, and the opening hours of the business reception at Fenland Hall will remain the same.
The council report said they would maintain the old hours at their telephone contact centre and that even with the reduction they were still “offering a high quality, customer focused and personal service” in a way that “far exceeds the service levels offered by most small, rural district councils.”
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Fenland’s town councils were consulted on the proposals, which will come into effect from January 3 next year.
Town councillors in Chatteris and Whittlesey were concerned at the impact of closing the shops on a Friday - a market day in both the towns - but the report claimed customer volumes showed no sign of improvement on these days.
Wisbech Town Council were worried that closing the shop an hour earlier on weekdays would provide a “reduced service to those people finishing work mid afternoon as well as parents of school age children”.
Roddons Housing Association were also consulted over the plans and said they may seek a further reduction in the amount they pay the council for handling tenant queries and payments at the shops.
Councillors approved the recommended cuts, concluding that the changes “generate significant financial savings to the council yet allow the continued provision of this high quality service that is a key and prominent part of the High Streets in all four towns in Fenland.”