STRATFORD District Council’s Land Charges service will be operational again from Monday.
The impact of Covid-19 has had a direct impact on the council’s Local Land Charges Service – generally relating to financial charges or restrictions on the use of land – and like other organisations the authority is obliged to protect the health and welfare of staff.
Unlike most council services, Land Charges is not one that can be completely done remotely away from the main council office in Stratford.
The council has been working to make its offices Covid-secure to enable those members of staff, unable to work remotely, to work from the offices.
District regulatory spokeswoman Coun Anne Parry said: “I would like to apologise for the disruption to this service.
“Sadly for us the situation was out of our control as Covid-19 had a direct impact on the service. So, understandably the welfare of our staff remained a priority at the time.
“However, I would like to reassure everyone that every effort has been made to restart this service at the earliest opportunity and would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding in this matter at this difficult time.
“I know moving house can be a stressful time and not having a fully functioning service is frustrating for both us and users of the service, but the safety and welfare of our staff are a priority at this time.
“The complexities, together with the levels of specialist knowledge and accuracy required to service Local Land Charges Searches also means that it hasn’t been possible to reallocate new staff into this area, in view of the extensive training required and the current implications of social distancing procedures.
“In the meantime, we have done everything we can to get the service fully operational again.”
The council has committed £315,000 for the digital transformation of the service, and was scheduled to start using the new digitised CON29 search reply service this spring but the impact of the pandemic delayed the process.
The council has also signed a collaboration agreement with Her Majesty’s Land Registry (HMLR) to migrate the data for the purpose of enabling customers to access an LLC1 search reply online via the Land Registry’s portal. It is hoped that this service will be operational by the end of April 2021.
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