OAP calls for county council presence

Brian Quinn outside of the former Woolworths store, Castle Dene Shopping Centre, Peterlee . Picture by FRANK REID

Brian Quinn outside of the former Woolworths store, Castle Dene Shopping Centre, Peterlee . Picture by FRANK REID

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A PENSIONER wants Durham County Council to have more of a presence in Peterlee, citing the ex-Woolworths’ store as the ideal venue.

Brian Quinn, 75, of Chilton Garth, contacted the Star after he said he was kept on hold on the phone to the council for 15 minutes in a call about footpaths and that he heard the local authority was ploughing money into new or improved council offices in Stanley and Newton Aycliffe.

Council bosses say Peterlee has just started its own face-to-face customer access point, on a six-month trial basis - but you must still ring to book an appointment.

Retired miner and former District of Easington councillor Mr Quinn said: “Stanley is the same size as our town and at Newton Aycliffe they have the brilliant idea of putting council offices inside the leisure centre. But to me we are the forgotten land of South East Durham - we have no council contact whatsoever.

“We have Peterlee town centre where there is a Woolworths shop standing empty - it would be the ideal place for someone from the council to lease for a one-stop shop. In a four-mile radius there is a population of 50,000. But if anyone has a problem and they need face-to-face help they have to go all the way to the offices in Seaham.”

Residents could get advice and make payments at the former District of Easington Council offices in Easington until three years ago.

The dad-of-three and grandfather-of-six said: “Is that good enough where they took a system from Easington which was quite good and now I have to wait in a quarter-of-an-hour phone queue?

“It would be brilliant, not just for Peterlee but for everywhere else, Wingate, Shotton, Station Town, to have their own point of council contact here in Peterlee.”

Alan Patrickson, the county council’s head of projects and business services, said: “We are currently reviewing the location of our Customer Access Points across the county in order to address potential shifting demand brought about by changes to the benefit system. We are now providing face-to-face advice to residents in Peterlee through appointment-based surgery sessions at the town centre-based East Durham Homes office.” For appointments call 03000 260000.