A cautious welcome has been given to the launch of an innovative new council project that will see some services put on line for the first time.
The Switch campaign is intended to make life easier for residents by allowing them to do things such as paying council tax, registering to vote, ordering recycling equipment, and renewing parking permits and library books via the internet.
More online services are expected to be rolled out in the coming months.
Parents who were invited to Port Talbot’s Central Infant School earlier in March to try out the new new scheme were generally positive about the experience.
Gareth Davies, who has a child at the school, said: “Switch is a really useful initiative. I didn’t realise how much was available online and being able to order recycling bags, renew library books and order parking permits online will save me time and money, and make my life easier.”
But librarian Laura Davies had mixed feelings about the programme.
“I like the idea a lot,” she said. “But I hope it will be only an option, and that people will still be able to meet face to face to access these services.
“If Switch is forced on people, it may be too daunting for them. Some people aren’t as savvy with technology as others, and at a time when library services are being reduced in the Neath Port Talbot, where will these people go for help? How will they cope?”
Howell Stanton, of Age Cymru, also said he liked the thinking behind Switch, but like Laura Davies would rather it remained an option. “The elderly could become disenfranchised and left behind,” he warned.