RICHMOND'S Citizen's Advice Bureau has slashed its opening hours and axed it drop in services, despite rising demands for its services as the recession bites.
The borough's main centre, in Kew Road, moved to a new office with the Addiction and Support Agency at 233 Lower Mortlake Road, on October 30.
It will now be open for appointments only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-3pm. It previously offered a walk-in advice service on Mondays and Tuesdays from 11am-1.30pm and 11am-1pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Richmond's team leader Alison Barrington said the shift to an appointment system would mean service users would not have to wait so long to be seen.
“Our current clients are being given full information on the changes and any new clients needing advice or an appointment should visit the bureau between 11am and 1pm on these days or call us. We are moving to appointments rather than drop-in services in Richmond in order to reduce the waiting times clients have been experiencing when turning up at our drop-in sessions. We will be doing our very best to minimise any disruption to clients.”
Chief executive Susan Smith confirmed there had been an increase in demand for the bureau's services recently, but said the new system would help residents be seen quicker and admitted the new premises were cheaper.
“Despite changes in our opening hours in Richmond town centre, we are committed to maintaining current levels of service across the borough, and to increasing these where we can, despite needing to tighten our belts and look for cost savings wherever possible,” she said.
“Moving to less expensive premises in Richmond has been key to Richmond Citizen's Advice Bureau being able to live within its means. For example, we are significantly strengthening our service to our Ham clients, who will be pleased to hear that from November 23 our bureau there will be open on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and we will be able to offer 22 client appointments every week, instead of only five at present.
“We also hope shortly to open our Heath Road office, in Twickenham, on a Friday and to begin working in the Heathfield area.”