Council opens one-stop shop

Councillor Peter Wood outside the empty Tourist  Information Centre in Fawcett Street, Sunderland.
Councillor Peter Wood outside the empty Tourist Information Centre in Fawcett Street, Sunderland.
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WEARSIDERS will get easier access to services when a new office opens up in the city centre, say council bosses.

Sunderland City Council is opening a new customer service centre in Fawcett Street aimed at improving services to the public.

The move is also expected to encourage more shoppers into the area. It comes after the council shifted its tourist information centre from Fawcett Street into the City Library.

Celia Gofton, the senior councillor responsible for customer care, said: “The new city centre location is much more convenient and accessible for our customers.

“By bringing all customer–focused services together under one roof we’re improving the service we offer to customers and reducing queuing times. Our aim is to resolve customers’ queries on first contact.”

Coun Gofton said the new centre, next door to the City Library and Arts Centre, is just a short walk from nearby shops and has excellent public transport links.

Services at the new centre – which opens on July 4 – will include housing and council tax benefit advice, planning and building control services, housing services, environmental services, council payments.

Coun Gofton said the new centre will be on one level – as opposed to the present system, where the services are located on different floors of the civic centre.

There will be 10 inquiry desks, three confidential interview rooms, a parent and baby changing room and customer toilets.

There will also be self-serve free phones and internet points to help customers find out information.

Coun Gofton added: “The redevelopment will also provide a boost for the city centre’s economy by encouraging more people into Fawcett Street.”

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