FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Office of Johnny Mercer MP
Phone: +44 1752 876979
Johnny Mercer and Conservative Councillors Call for 1st Stop Shop to Reopen
Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View, and the Conservative Group on Plymouth City Council have called for the One Stop Shop on 71 New George Street to reopen. Forced to shut during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 1st Stop Shop provided a vital in-person service for members of the public seeking advice on local services provided by the Council.
These services included housing and council tax benefit questions and advice, housing options and homelessness advisors, public use computers with free Wi-Fi and general council services such as bus passes and parking permits. It is unclear whether Plymouth City Council’s current provision offers this help. The Council’s preferred medium to communicate is email and telephone and personal contact is not well promoted.
The Conservative Group brought forward a Motion on Notice at a Full Council on Monday, 20th November. Proposed by Cllr David Salmon and seconded by Cllr Andy Lugger, the MON cited Plymouth’s aging population and the corresponding decline in connectivity as key reasons why the 1st Stop Shop needs to reopen. The proportion of residents over the age of 75 will increase by 60.3 percent in the next 20 years. It resolves that the existing phoneline system is improved; a general ‘Helpline for all Enquires’ is advertised; a rigorous assessment of Council contact centres in conducted; and, crucially, the 1st Stop Shop is reinstated.
Mr Mercer states “Many elderly constituents who contact me are unable to navigate Plymouth City Council’s online services. The 1st Stop Shop is a vital helpline for our most vulnerable in Plymouth, providing a specialist, in-person service which I do not believe our libraries are able to match. It should be a priority for Plymouth City Council to see that it is reopened – I welcome the Conservative Group’s Motion on Notice.”
The Leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr Lugger adds that, “Our Motion was clear, concise and non-political. The 1st Stop Shop remains open for the homelessness function. As the unit still operates, albeit just for one service, it is patently obvious it should be opened up for the full array of council services.”
Although the ruling Labour Group did not support the Motion, it has been referred to the Scrutiny Committee for further consideration.