Concerns have been raised about the Housing Executive’s decision to reduce the opening hours of local offices, including Banbridge.
The Housing Executive said the reductions are due to ‘the changing needs of customers’, however local MLA Carla Lockhart believes the move is premature.
The Banbridge office will be open Monday 9.30am to 4pm; Tuesday 9.30am - 1pm; Wednesday 9.30am - 1pm; Thursday closed; Friday 9.30am - 4pm.
Ms Lockhart said: “I have grave concerns over these dramatic changes particularly in the Banbridge and Portadown area. It will undoubtedly cause much distress amongst NIHE tenants many of whom are vulnerable and in need of face to face assistance.
“I think this move has been premature and that there should have been more consultation prior to bringing about such dramatic changes. Whilst I can appreciate things are moving towards electronic contact I believe there needs to be investment in such systems prior to this move.
“I have asked for an urgent conversation with management to try and further tease out how they arrived at this decision.
“This is a loss of service to the areas and one that I feel needs more justification and explanation. I would call for a delay in this move until all avenues have been explored and users consulted.”
The NIHE said: “From Tuesday, May 1 our offices at Armagh, Banbridge and Portadown we are changing our office hours to take into account changing needs of our customers.
The number of customers visiting our offices has greatly reduced over recent years, with many preferring to telephone us or to arrange visits to their home.
“There will be no change in our staffing structures and we are not closing these offices.”
New opening hours are: Portadown and Armagh Offices - Monday 9.30am - 4pm; Tuesday 9.30am - 1pm; Wednesday closed; Thursday 9.30am - 1pm; Friday 9.30am - 4pm; Banbridge Office - Monday 9.30am to 4pm; Tuesday 9.30am - 1pm; Wednesday 9.30am - 1pm; Thursday closed; Friday 9.30am - 4pm.