Registering concern over closures

I read with concern about the proposed changes to the registration service (Southern, February 10).

Should a service which the council is required to provide, to enable us all to fulfil our legal obligation to register births, marriages and deaths, be expected to be self-funding? Ms Craig’s remarks seem to imply that the income from civil ceremonies ought to be sufficient to pay staff salaries.

Closure of offices will impose yet another financial burden on the public – that of travelling by car or bus considerable distances in order to register. In the case of Newcastleton, a round trip of 40 miles to Hawick (the nearest office) is a substantial journey, and in severe weather conditions hazardous or even impossible. What do they do then if they need to register a death?

In addition, people who are registering births or deaths tend to have particular difficulties with travelling – new mothers with a new baby and perhaps a toddler in tow; bereaved relatives (often of advanced age) in a state of shock and grief, and possibly suffering from physical difficulties.

But why should offices have to close down in order to make savings in staffing costs? Surely the staffing cuts already under way in the registration service, together with a well thought out and coherent redeployment of the remaining registrars, and a reduction in opening hours, could equally well produce the necessary savings without having to deprive communities of the facility to register births, marriages and deaths locally?

Is it too much to hope that the council will reconsider these proposals with due regard to the impact they will have on many Borders folk at a time of special stress in their lives?

S. Purvis