If you ring Camden Council you will find that the person who answers is no longer someone who invites you to Dial 1 for this or Dial 2 for that - you will be asked which service you want. 

Do you know what services are available? Cue endless confusion.  

This new approach, which came in yesterday, May 8, is apparently an attempt to reduce the complexity of the phone system and the time that it takes for a caller to speak to the service that they want.  

The idea is to “improve residents' experience of calling the council and reduce the number of calls that are misplaced”.

Please do let me know how it goes if you have a reason to call.  

On a separate but related issue, how do people feel about the disappearance of bank branches on our streets - especially as we have just heard about the closure of NatWest’s branch in Finchley Road?  

We hear of other councils where there are attempts to ensure at least some coverage locally for those who want to have access to face-to-face banking facilities, by creating a banking hub. At least that would mean there was somewhere to go.  

Ham & High: Cllr Judith Dixey wants to hear from people who have used the new phone system at Camden CouncilCllr Judith Dixey wants to hear from people who have used the new phone system at Camden Council (Image: Camden Council)

I was at the Camden branch of one of the big banks, where a market trader had cash to pay in, a young woman with poor English wanted to get cash out, and someone else was struggling at the machine with a cheque but the wrong account.  

The nearest branch where they could find any service was Kilburn! The young woman had already travelled from the King’s Cross branch.  

With so many people doing their banking online it appears that anything else has virtually disappeared.

Where is the support for those who are less agile, not experienced digitally or can’t afford constantly upgraded IT?  

Where is the service and how are we going to address the issues of loneliness and isolation, which is high in Camden borough, even in comparison with other London boroughs, if we cut people off from speaking to an advisor?

  • Judith Dixey is Lib Dem councillor for Belsize ward and the Lib Dem Party Whip at Camden Council.