Basingstoke Register Office to become "hub" as part of cost-saving shake-up (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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Basingstoke Register Office to become "hub" as part of cost-saving shake-up
11:00am Thursday 25th October 2012 in Local
BASINGSTOKE Register Office is to become a “hub” in a cost-saving shake-up of registration services in Hampshire.
Hampshire County Council is proposing to move register offices in Andover, Aldershot, Petersfield and Romsey to different premises and to close the office in Bishops Waltham. But Basingstoke Register Office will remain in Goldings, a building next to the Civic Offices, which is leased from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.
If the plan is approved today by Hampshire County Council leader Councillor Ken Thornber, some buildings currently in use will be sold as part of a £2million savings programme.
A report says it is expected that Hampshire will follow the national trend towards fewer marriages and more transactions being conducted online. The Hampshire service’s premises also have to compete with the 150 private venues licensed for marriages in the county.
It has experienced a four per cent annual drop in register office ceremonies whereas those at private venues have increased by 16 per cent over the last two years.
The registration service currently employs 120 staff in 16 offices and costs £2million in operating costs, excluding buildings. Besides registering births, deaths and marriages, the register offices are also used for civil partnership, wedding and citizenship ceremonies. They also provide vow renewal, private citizenship and naming ceremonies and check immigrants’ documents for citizenship applications.
In the scheme up for approval, Basingstoke Register Office will continue as it is, but be one of just four offices in the county used for citizenship ceremonies.
The report, compiled by officers, says most of the 219 people who responded to a public consultation exercise at offices and online were in favour of the proposals. Cllr Thornber said the survey had been very useful in helping to “reshape the service so that it can continue to meet people’s needs”.
Figures in the report show that in the year 2011-2012, some 3,012 births were registered at Basingstoke Register Office, along with 1,122 deaths and 1,560 notices of marriage. The Hampshire service as a whole registers a total of 18,000 births and deaths each year and conducts more than 5,000 ceremonies.