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Axe falls on cash service

PUBLISHED: 11:03 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:58 23 August 2010

FURIOUS residents have blasted a council decision to close cash desks where taxes and rents are paid, affecting five jobs. The plans, which take effect in October, will see the desks in the Civic Centre and at neighbourhood housing offices stop receiving

FURIOUS residents have blasted a council decision to close cash desks where taxes and rents are paid, affecting five jobs.

The plans, which take effect in October, will see the desks in the Civic Centre and at neighbourhood housing offices stop receiving cash payments.

Two full-time and three part-time staff have lost their jobs and have been offered other roles within the council. Neighbourhood offices in Lawrance Square on Haynes Road, The Hive, Kitchener Avenue, and Dickens Road will also lose the cash paying facility.

Ken Attaway, 73, of Painters Ash, Northfleet, said: "I am horrified by this. I really don't know what I will do now.

"I can't travel to the Civic Centre to pay, its too far, and all these Post Offices are closing up now, if I can't pay by cash at a desk, then I might not even pay at all.

"These cash desk services are important, I feel like I would rather go to jail than pay by direct debit or some other way. Why do we have to pay through a bank?"

"I have been paying by cash for years. Why change it?

For residents still wanting to pay in cash, facilities will include an automated kiosk in the Civic Centre, payment through the Post Office or through any retailer displaying a Pay Point system.

But many claim the cash desks are an important resource for the community and the decision has made it difficult for people still wanting to pay in cash. Pat Stevens, 60, of Lanes Avenue, Northfleet, added: "We are going to have to travel around to pay rent and bills. The service has always been excellent and the staff helpful and friendly. For local residents, especially the elderly, who can walk to this office to pay their rent and council tax as well as talk directly and quickly to someone about any problems they may have, this is a service which is worth paying for and keeping."

Other ways for residents to pay council bills include direct debit, standing orders, internet banking and telephone payments. Cheques and postal orders can be posted to the council.

A spokesperson for the council said: "Those customers using the cashiers will be advised of the date of the changeover for at least two months before it takes effect. We hope that the ability to pay cash at all post offices and at the kiosk will minimise any inconvenience and that customers who do not have access to bank accounts will find the new ways even more convenient.

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