Official unveiling of refurbishment for customer service centre in Rushden

Cllr Marika Hillson officially opening the refurbished Rushden Centre
Cllr Marika Hillson officially opening the refurbished Rushden Centre

An official unveiling has been held to mark the completion of a £7,000 refurbishment for a customer service centre.

The Rushden Centre based at the library in Newton Road in the town has had a make-over and a small celebration was held to mark the completed work today (Tuesday).

Inside the newly refurbished Rushden Centre

Inside the newly refurbished Rushden Centre

Services available at the centre for East Northants Council customers include council tax and business payments, document checking for housing and council tax benefit applications, arranging pest control appointments, recycling and refuse enquiries, dog warden enquiries, looking at planning applications and public PC terminals for access to the council website and services.

The work was carried out not only to improve customer service provided by the council but also to provide the chance to work closer together with other organisations, including Northants Police.

Chairman of East Northants Council Cllr Marika Hillson made a short speech thanking everyone involved in the project before officially cutting the ribbon.

Julia Smith, the authority’s interim head of customer and community services, said: “We wanted to be more customer friendly so we were looking at ways of coming out from behind the glass panels.

“We just thought this was such a lovely space to do something with it.

“There were early conversations with [Inspector] Julie Mead and she was really keen to do something with us.”

The project costing less than £7,000 has taken about six or seven months to complete, but disruption has been kept to a minimum while the work was carried out.

One of the significant changes is the introduction of two touch screens where people can access various council services and information.

The screens are in booths to allow privacy for customers.

Julia added: “We are trying to encourage people to do stuff online.

“We are going to get some tablets so we can help people with them or show them on their own device, and there’s also a phone so people can speak directly to officers at Thrapston.”

The room has also had a new coat of paint, with two shades of green now adorning the walls and archways.

Chief executive for the council David Oliver said he thinks the refurbishment is ‘brilliant’ and when asked about the new colour scheme, he said: “I love it, I think it’s fabulous.”

Sector inspector for East Northants Julie Mead was at the opening with several officers from her team, who will be spending time there during the week.

She said: “It just makes absolute sense.

“It’s an ideal location with great footfall, it is right where we need to be in the town.”
Insp Mead said the centre will provide their front office provision for the town of 12 hours per week, but officers and PCSOs will be encouraged to also use it as a base to complete paperwork and be accessible to people.

The customer service centre is open from 9am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.