One Stop Shops across the borough look set to close as Tower Hamlets Council looks set to merge their services into Idea Stores (aka libraries).
Shadwell residents asked Cllr. Rabina Khan (Lib Dem, Shadwell) if the rumours they had heard that the One Stop Shop in Watney Market was to be closed?
She asked the Council.
Today, I’ve had a number of older, vulnerable, & very anxious residents telling me that Watney Market One Stop Shop and other one stop shops will soon be closing. Please confirm if this is true @TowerHamletsNow? #stopclosureofonestopshops @LoveWapping @THLDs
— Rabina Khan ? (@RabinaKhan) December 3, 2018
Thanks to these Shadwell residents and Cllr. Khan for telling the rest of us what is going on.
LW also asked the Council and the official response is below.
“We are looking at bringing One Stop Shops into our Idea Stores to provide a better service. Most are already located close to each other or, in the case of Watney Market, in the same building.
“Residents have told us that they want to be able to access council services in a way that works for them and in one place.
“By giving them the tools to manage their lives online, while on the move, at home or in our Idea Stores, we will free up the resources to provide more personal, face to face support for the most vulnerable in our community.”
There are currently four Tower Hamlets One Stop Shops in the borough at Bethnal Green, Bow & North Poplar, South Poplar and Stepney & Wapping.
The closure of the One Stop Shops seems to be part of the latest Council cuts that will affect the elderly and most vulnerable in our community the most.
The argument given for these closures is fallacious.
How will closing a One Stop Shop like the one in Chrisp Street market allow the Council ‘to provide more personal, face to face support’? This is what is already provided by the One Stop staff.
LW knows because we have often used this shop. It is in a central location so everyone knows where it is.
You walk in, take a ticket, sit down, talk to someone and that’s it.
You can pop completed Council forms in a little box just inside the door.
We have always found the staff very friendly and helpful.
The other unsound argument is that the Council is providing the most vulnerable in our community with ‘the tools to manage their lives online, while on the move, at home or in our Idea Stores.’
Last time we checked managing their lives online is not that high a priority for the poor and vulnerable in our borough, usually coming in well below the need to get enough to eat and find somewhere decent to live.
In addition, the Tower Hamlets Council website is not fit for its current purpose and any claim that the closure of One Stop Shops will be compensated for by the provision of online services should be challenged.
If, as it seems, the Council is moving to a better offering of online services then it needs to get a grip and improve connectivity across the borough. A token public wifi service in restricted locations does not cut it.
The Council should follow the lead set by other London councils and team up with telecommunication providers such as Hyperoptic (not BT please!) to install ultra-fast broadband across the borough.
If they do this they might have a genuine argument to close One Stop Shops.
Southwark Council and Hyperoptic are working together to provide 100,000 homes and businesses with access to gigabit full fibre broadband – or more bandwidth than you could ever need.