Plan to close borough council offices in Downham Market and Hunstanton outlined

GV of  the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Court Hq, Chapel Street King's Lynn
GV of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Court Hq, Chapel Street King's Lynn

West Norfolk Council’s offices in Downham and Hunstanton look set to close because of falling visitor numbers, documents have revealed.

No date has been set for when the measure, which is due to be considered by a committee next week, would be implemented.

But officials say it is necessary to ensure resources are used effectively.

It is anticipated that staff affected by the plan would be moved into a team answering telephone calls for service at the council’s headquarters in Lynn.

The facilities at the Priory Centre in Downham and Valentine Road, Hunstanton, had their opening hours cut from five to two days a week in April last year.

The council said that reflected the decline in visitor numbers associated with the introduction of digital service options.

A report prepared for the authority’s corporate performance panel, who are due to debate the issue at a meeting on Monday, said the two sites now see an average of 28 and 21 customers per day respectively.

The Downham office is currently open to the public on Mondays and Fridays, with the Hunstanton facility opening on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The report also suggested visitor numbers would fall even further, to 12 and 14 per day respectively, when sales of food caddy bags end.

Earlier this week, the authority announced the bags would be phased out, following criticism of their quality, because of technological improvements that allow any small bag to be used to store food waste in the caddy before they are collected.

Report author Honor Howell, the council’s assistant director of central and community services, said: “It is a key priority of the council to provide important local services within our available resources.

“The low volume of customers visiting the area offices is indicative that valuable resource is not being used as effectively as it could be.”

She added that a visiting officer service is still available for elderly or vulnerable residents who need personal contact.

If the closure plan is implemented, a date will have to be agreed with Job Centre Plus, who currently sub-let space in the two offices.

However, the report says their staff have been informed of the intention to close their offices, following the roll-out of the Universal Credit benefit payment system.