Havering Council’s extra holiday anger

RESIDENTS were left hopping mad on Wednesday after travelling into Romford to use council services only to discover officials were having an extended Christmas break.

Motorists hoping to get their new parking permits for 2011 from the civic office in the Liberty shopping centre assumed that services would return to normal after the extended holiday.

But to their dismay they found Havering Council had taken December 29 as a holiday and closed the Town Hall and most of its other offices.

Nurse Brian Blackgrove, of Romford, feared being left at the mercy of parking wardens because his permit ended that day.

The 32-year-old said: “They’ve had two Bank Holidays - it’s supposed to be back to normal now.

“There’s not even a sign up saying what’s going on and the lift was broken, which meant I had to carry my two-year-old to the top for nothing.

“There’s no information and nowhere else you can get the permit.

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“I wasn’t the first person that was fuming about it. An elderly man had walked up there too.

“I pay for the privilege of having wardens come down the road to check that there is no one parking there without a permit and now I face the prospect of going back and getting a ticket because my permit runs out today.”

The council’s website claims its ‘main offices will be closed’ from 4pm on Christmas Eve until Wednesday, December, 29.

Neighbouring Barking and Dagenham Council also closed its public offices during the same day and its Town Hall is remaining shut until the New Year.

A council spokesman said: “The Public Advice and Service Centre, like all main council offices, was closed on Wednesday as staff have a statutory day off as part of their holiday entitlement. The main offices are closed on the same day to make savings in security, heating and lighting costs. Frontline services continue as normal throughout the festive period.

“The opening hours of council offices was advertised in Living and on the Internet. We are sorry for any inconvenience.”