It's been a case of as one door closes another one, along with a window of opportunity, opens for the Napier City Council in establishing a new one-stop shop Customer Service Centre.

The centre opened on the ground floor of the Hastings St frontage of former Government building Dunvegan House on December 21 as part of the relocation of over 200 council staff because of the condemning of the council buildings as an earthquake risk.

It's also enabled the council to bring forward plans to merge what were three different office and counter operations in the civic building into one centre dealing with all face-to-face inquiries and receiving rates, parking fines and other fee payments.

The centre, opened in 1971 in a four-storey building built for the Government's State Advances Corporation, and for years occupied by government department the Housing Corporation, was open for two days leading into Christmas and reopened last Wednesday.


Council manager business excellence and transformation Rachael Horton said the planning had focused on what the customer wants, not necessarily what was best for the council, and it alleviates fears that the council might move to an online focus which could do away with a counter for the public.

"We are committed to maintaining a face-to-face service," she said, adding the team and leader and six staff had been specifically recruited and trained to be able to answer inquiries across the range of council service.

It's an open spaces plan, with offices for more private conversations, and a "smart" meeting room accessing all the latest technology.

The centre has already attracted popular acclaim and while not scheduled as the permanent site — with no decision yet made on the future location of council staff currently operating from three leased sites in the city — there are those who might prefer it stays where it is.

That just might include the staff. "They love it," Ms Horton said.