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Delivering better services

Date: 11/03/2008           Category: Customer First

Council access points are moving to new homes from 1 April as part of exciting new changes to the way Medway Council serves local people. Although services across Medway will be better than ever, many of them will be delivered from different locations - and while this will generally mean bright new surroundings, it will mean changes for some customers. Two of the main changes are the closure of the reception areas and offices at the Municipal Buildings in Gillingham and the Civic Centre in Strood and the council's decision to end its cashier services in favour of a wide variety of other payment methods, including an automated till in the new Chatham Contact Point. Customers can pay many council bills easily and safely - and without any risk of missing a payment - by direct debit or standing order. Direct debit for rent payments will be available from this summer. For more information phone 01634 332222 (council tax or business rates), 01634 333456 (rent payments) or 01634 332819 (sundry debtor payments). Bills can also be paid using a debit or credit card, either online anytime at www.medway.gov.uk/onlinepayments or by phoning 01634 334477 or 01634 333128 from Monday to Friday between 9am and 4.30pm. Cash can still be used to pay a wide range of council bills, including council tax, business rates and rent, at post offices and banks. Credit and debit cards can also be used at any of Medway Council's contact points, and the new Chatham facility at Riverside One in Dock Road will accept cash payments using a new automated till service from 1 April. Cheques and postal orders should be sent to the new address - Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, ME4 4TU - after 1 April. Another easy way to pay council rent safely and securely by cash is to use an Allpay card at any of the 40,000 conveniently-situated outlets nationwide. More than 50 outlets take Allpay in Gillingham, including one close to the former Municipal Buildings - just look out for a PayPoint or Pay Zone sign. To find out more about Allpay phone 01634 333500. With the Municipal Buildings closing permanently from Friday 28 March, information on housing services will no longer be available in Gillingham. Customers will instead be able to access all the advice they need from the new Chatham Contact Point at Riverside One, Dock Road, Chatham. The new contact point, which opens on Tuesday, 1 April, will offer a bright and friendly reception area and is close to the bus station and town centre car parks. "We appreciate that this is a bit of a change for the people in the Gillingham and Rainham area who have been used to visiting the Municipal Buildings, but the council is confident that this will provide better facilities for everyone in a central, easy-to-reach location," said Medway Council's Deputy Leader Cllr Alan Jarrett. Chatham Contact Point, which is next to Chatham Library, will replace the existing Chatham Local Office in Military Road, which is also due to close on Friday 28 March. As well as dealing with housing enquiries, staff will be able to provide information on all other council services except planning and parking. Public access to planning services is moving in April from the Compass Centre in Chatham Maritime to a planning reception area in the new Gun Wharf building. More information is available on 01634 331700. The Civic Centre reception in Strood will also be closing permanently, although this is not expected to be until Friday 23 May. Remember - as well as the main Chatham Contact Point there are contact points in Station Road, Rainham, Gillingham Library and the visitor information centre in Rochester. A new contact point to replace the existing facilities in the Civic Centre in Strood will be opening in the annex (the Clock Tower building) and will also be the place to go for all parking services enquiries from Tuesday 27 May. The telephone number for all general council enquiries will remain 01634 333333. All other numbers are unchanged. While the council's postal address is changing to Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, ME4 4TU from 1 April, post will be redirected from old addresses for a limited period. The email address for council enquiries is customer.first@medway.gov.uk