DUDLEY Council Plus centres at Stourbridge and Brierley Hill libraries have been axed as the service goes more phone and online based due to a drop in face to face contacts since the pandemic.

The council's customer service centre in Castle Street, Dudley, and its three smaller centres at Brierley Hill, Halesowen and Stourbridge libraries have all seen a decline in in-person contacts, from 10 per cent pre-Covid to just two per cent, with more and more people moving to online self-service options and the phone service.

People can still walk in to the main Dudley Council Plus centre, Monday to Friday - 10am to 3pm, but changes to layouts at Brierley Hill and Stourbridge libraries mean there is no longer space for a physical presence so the council can no longer run a service at these venues.

Halesowen Library, however, has room to expand counter provision and an in-person service will continue there once building improvement works have been completed.

Residents will no longer be able to pay using cash at the centres though.

This has been the case since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020 but the option to pay using cash is not being reinstated.

Only four per cent of residents pay with cash, with most paying by direct debit or standing order.

Councillor Shaun Keasey, Dudley Council's cabinet member for digital, customer and commercial services, said: "We’ve seen a significant drop in face-to-face customer contacts across all our sites over the last few years, with only two per cent of contacts being face-to-face over the last 18 months, which is why we’ve taken the decision to focus our walk-ins to where they are most used; Dudley and Halesowen.

"The majority of our customers are using self-serve methods online to report and resolved issues and are also using online facilities to make payments, making the cash kiosks which have been out of use since March 2020 redundant."

Residents can continue to pay by phone with a debit or credit card using the CallPay automated payments system on 0300 555 7000, or online via the council website.

In person payments can be made at any post office or PayZone or PayPoint location.

Cllr Keasey added: "People who want to pay in cash can continue to do so at a location more convenient and closer to them, wherever they see the PayZone or PayPoint sign.

"By focusing on our online and telephone services we can be much more efficient in dealing with customers and provide a service which fits in around them."

People can get in touch with Dudley Council Plus by calling 0300 555 2345, emailing dudleycouncilplus@dudley.gov.uk, via twitter @dudleyplus or by completing a self-serve form on the council website.