Price hike fears for registry transfer plan

PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 October 2015 | UPDATED: 08:45 05 October 2015

Weston Town Hall.

Weston Town Hall.

Archant

RECORDS of births, deaths and marriages in North Somerset could be shipped off to Somerset County Council – along with future registry services – and there are fears this could result in a price hike.

The registrars service, which is run out of the register office in the Town Hall in Walliscote Grove Road in Weston-super-Mare, could be merged with Somerset County Council.

If the merger goes ahead, the council says the Town Hall register officer will remain, but the overall running of the service will be shared with Somerset.

North Somerset Council’s Labour leader Richard Tucker says he is concerned the move will amount to ‘increased charges’.

He told the Mercury: “This will be decided by the executive after a brief consultation buried away on the website.

“Somerset’s fees are far more expensive. The fear is that the transfer will end up the same way as the crematorium, with much increased charges.”

There are differences in costs for services between the two local authorities, for example the price of a registrar for marriages or civil partnership ceremonies.

To book a registrar to come to your wedding or civil ceremony from Mondays to Thursdays in North Somerset it costs £294, on Fridays it costs £315, on Saturday it costs £346 and £376 for Sundays and Bank Holidays.

But in Somerset, it costs £420 for Monday to Thursday ceremonies, £450 for Friday and Saturday, £500 on Sundays and £600 for a Bank Holiday service.

A consultation is being run on the North Somerset Council website until October 21.

The consultation states: “Operating as a shared service could give the registration service access to additional resources and expertise and would enhance the service for service users.”

The council says it would continue to conduct marriage, citizenship and civil partnership ceremonies, but there would be a new, dedicated call centre.

It is unclear if there would be job losses, but the council said: “Services to North Somerset customers would continue to be delivered by local staff, but these staff would be part of a larger team – making it easier to increase the level of resources during seasonal peaks in demand.”

To view the consultation online, visit consult.n-somerset.gov.uk/consult.ti

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