West Devon Borough Councillors has identified two huge savings that can be made as the Council tightens its belt to deal with a predicted £1.2m budget shortfall.

Each year the Council spends £35,000 processing cash and cheque payments, and £82,000 to keep Okehampton Customer Service centre open.

Members have now decided that this money could be better spent maintaining essential services. So the Okehampton office will close on the 29 March, and the Council will no longer accept cash or cheque payments at their office or by post from 1 April.

Cllr Caroline Mott, Lead Member for Customer Contact at West Devon Borough Council said: "Although change is never easy, we really do feel that by implementing these decisions, we will be able to offer a better value service for our residents. Many rural councils are not able to provide two office sites for their residents and we have been lucky in being able to keep Okehampton open for as long as we have.

"For customers who have other queries, we plan to make our Mobile Locality Officers available on a set day and time in a specified location. Residents will continue to have access to public computers at their local library or at the Ockment Centre, and they can access our services online."

Those residents who wish to continue paying their Council Tax by cheque or cash can continue to do so by taking their payment to a local PayPoint or Post Office. Many residents already use this method to pay their bills, meaning footfall at the Okehampton office has dropped considerably in recent years.

One proposal for the future use of the building in Okehampton is to convert it into three flats, which the council could then use for emergency accommodation. This would enable the council to provide homeless individuals and families with a safe and secure home environment, in a manner that will be more cost effective to the tax payer.

Cllr Mott continued: "There will be no job losses associated with the closure of the office, as the staff currently based there will transfer to Kilworthy Park, and we will continue to provide face-to-face contact for those who need it."

To find your local PayPoint, you can visit the Post Office or PayPoint website and type in your postcode. You will then be given a map showing the location.

All other payments to the Council for items such as parking permits, fines, fees and licences can be paid through the website with a credit or debit card. However, as with Council Tax, these payments can no longer be paid by cash or cheque.

For information on how to pay your Council Tax visit www.westdevon.gov.uk. To find your local PayPoint, visit www.PayPoint.com or to find your nearest Post Office visit Post Office Branch Finder.