CAB axes phone and email services

Joe Michna outside the Park Road citizens advice bureau.
Joe Michna outside the Park Road citizens advice bureau.

A CRISIS-HIT advice service has axed its telephone and email service and laid off a worker as it battles to survive.

Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is facing an uncertain future after it failed to secure more than £200,000 of core funding from Hartlepool Borough Council to provide services.

Trustees for the service, which helps 7,500 people a year, met last night met to discuss their future.

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They agreed to make one member of staff redundant and to axe its telephone and email advice services from next Monday.

The services deal with up to 2,000 enquiries a year.

Trustees will meet again next week as they continue to debate the future of the organisation.

They will look at whether to reduce their services further, merge with another CAB or close altogether.

Joe Michna, manager of the Hartlepool bureau, in Park Road, described the long meeting as “tense and fraught” at times.

He said: “These are unprecedented circumstances for the bureau.

“Nobody wants to wind up the organisation, but we have got to be serious and look at the financial situation we are in.

“Because of the seriousness of the situation that we are in, the trustee board felt they needed more time to consider all the implications and consequences of any decisions which they make.

“It’s not easy with the future of the organisation at stake in coming to quick, easy decisions.”

Mr Michna added the decision to make one member of staff redundant was taken with “a heavy heart”.

“Whenever you make people redundant it’s not an easy decision to make, but given the uncertain financial situation we felt we had to take at least some immediate action.”

For the first time, the council invited tenders from groups to provide a financial advice and support service which was won by West View Advice and Resource Centre based in Miers Avenue, Hartlepool.

The welfare benefit and money advice service is expected to start next Monday.

The outreach service will be provided at children’s centres and other venues across the town.

Managers for the advice service say they hope to be able to do some partnership work with the Citizens Advice Bureau in the future.