WORK has started on a new service centre for Kirklees Council.
The £1.5m project will see the purpose-built customer service centre created at the Civic Centre 3 on Market Street in Huddersfield.
The move follows the creation of the customer service centre in North Kirklees where a range of council services have been brought together in a modern, open plan environment.
Around 1,000 people a week are using that centre and this is a significant rise which reflects the increased number of services available.
Huddersfield’s specially-designed centre, located opposite the bus station, will enable local people to benefit from improved services and better access in a welcoming bright and modern environment.
Customers will be able to access a wider range of the most popular services including information and advice on council tax and housing benefits as well as Social Services, Kirklees Passport, homelessness, tenancy relations and private sector housing.
A council spokesman said: “The open plan centre will allow friendly and expert staff to work with the latest technologies to continue to deliver improved customer service experiences including a queue management system and greater access to online services.
“The centre will have a new entrance opposite the bus station to make it even more accessible to the public”.
The £1.5m investment in the new centre will be recouped in just over seven years and the project will save around £200,000 a year on existing council costs by becoming more efficient at a time when budgets are being cut centrally.
Adrian Lythgo, Chief Executive said: “To improve services the new centre will be open plan and the environment more relaxed and welcoming with a greater variety of services on offer.
“There will also be public access computers to enable people to access services over the web and a suite of phones with direct access to our telephone contact centre.”
Clr David Sheard, Kirklees Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “This scheme is a valuable opportunity for us to provide better facilities in Huddersfield and help local people access the services that are important to them.
“The customer service centre will help us become even more efficient in the way in which we interact with local residents at a time when we must save around £80m due to cuts in government funding.
“Consolidating services in a new and modern centre, which has a convenient and high profile site, will be a real boost to Huddersfield and its town centre environment.”
There will be no disruption to services during the work and all services will remain at the current centre located at Civic Centre 1 until the new centre opens in late spring 2013.