Midhurst’s register office could be under threat, councillors fear

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MIDHURST town councillors fear the future of the town’s register office may be threatened by ‘inaccurate’ user information.

They voiced their fears nearly two years ago that people in the Midhurst and Petworth area may be forced in the future to travel to Chichester to register births, marriages and deaths.

This was after members heard the register office in Capron House had been closed for six weeks, despite advertising as opening two days a week.

They were afraid it was a ‘typical county council manoeuvre’ where people were deliberately not being referred to the Midhurst service and then it would be closed because there was no demand.

In September 2010 they met the county council officer responsible for the service and demanded figures showing the usage of the Midhurst office.

These were promised up-to-date figures, but town councillors were disappointed to discover the figures they received recently related to a period which predated their meeting with the county council.

In addition town councillors said they had evidence the figures produced were not correct.

The figures show in six weeks during 2010, 30 people from the Midhurst and Petworth area registered births, marriages and deaths, but none of them used the Capron House office in Midhurst.

Town clerk Joan Hursthouse said she had a copy of an email she sent to one of her committee chairman during the period in which she referred to the Capron House register office and the fact that the registrar was “fully booked.”

At a meeting of the finance and general purposes committee this week town councillors said accurate data must be collected before decisions about the future of the Midhurst service were made and they strongly believed it should be retained.