A COUNCILLOR has breathed a sigh of relief that a service which offers specialist advice to residents is to continue despite initial funding worries.
Councillor Rob Crute, who represents Blackhall on Durham County Council, says it is great news that the Citizens’ Advice Bureau’s (CAB) outreach service will continue to run at Blackhall Library.
He wanted to appear in the Mail to clear up any confusion about the frequency of sessions after “mixed messages” as to how and when they would be delivered in the wake of budget cuts.
But he says it has been confirmed that the service will continue to run weekly, not fortnightly, but with a change of its day of operation from Thursdays to Tuesdays.
The service had initially been under threat when Durham County Council announced a 14 per cent cut to its budget for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau budget.
This was part of the £112m the local authority must save over the next four years.
But Coun Crute, along with his fellow Blackhall representative on the county council, Coun Alan Cox, each ploughed £3,000 from their Neighbourhood Budget Fund to help keep the outreach service running.
This was on the condition it would run at its existing level of weekly service.
Coun Crute said: “It’s a huge relief. Clearly at the county council nobody wants to cut services.
“But when faced with the cuts like we are, you have got to cut where you can.
“But the Citizen’s Advice Bureau is a very important service.
“Where do people turn to when they are struggling with debt like they are going to over the next few years?”
He said local residents had been confused over the arrangements for the service’s running.
He wrote to the chairman of East Durham Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Alan Roxborough, for clarity.
Coun Crute said: “There had been some confusion in the community after CAB circulated publicity suggesting that the service would be reduced in future to a fortnightly service.
“I’ve had it confirmed by CAB that the service remains unchanged, except for a switch from Thursday to Tuesday.”
The service will run on Tuesdays from 1.30pm until 4pm.
Coun Crute said it was also vital to keep the service at the library, in Middle Street, and maximise usage in the wake of libraries nationwide being under threat of closure under Coalition Government plans.