Vital village service saved

Coun Rob Crute pictured outside Blackhall library.
Coun Rob Crute pictured outside Blackhall library.

A VITAL service that was under-threat has been given a reprieve thanks to the intervention of two councillors.

But the news does not look so positive for similar services that serve other east Durham villages.

The Mail reported in March that outreach services run East Durham Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) were under threat following funding cuts, despite record numbers needing help.

The CAB’s chief executive Neil Bradbury had feared the community-based services may have to be cut, or have their hours reduced as bosses struggle to find the £40,000 a year needed to run them.

But the outreach service in Blackhall has been given a lifeline after the village’s two representatives on Durham County Council, Labour’s Rob Crute and Alan Cox, stepped in.

They have donated £3,000 each from their East Durham Area Action Partnership (AAP) neighbourhood budgets to ensure the advice surgery, held weekly at Blackhall Library, in Middle Street, can continue for at least another year.

Monk Hesleden Parish Council donated a further £500.

Mr Bradbury said: “We had no money to continue running the services as we used to and put an appeal out to councillors across the area and Blackhall is one of the areas where the councillors have come up trumps.”

However, other outreach services have not been so lucky.

Mr Bradbury said the facility in Horden is likely to close, as well as the ones in Wheatley Hill and Haswell.

The Shotton service will run fortnightly instead of weekly.

The Thornley outreach service looks set to stay open after Thornley Parish Council and Durham County Councillor Brian Wilson contributed funds.

Wingate’s outreach service will stay open and the one run at the Healthworks centre in Easington will continue as it is funded by Healthworks.

Coun Crute said: “I believe the outreach is needed more now than ever before because of the austerity measures affecting benefits, jobs and public services.”

Coun Cox said: “It’s a service that’s very well-used and a service we can’t afford to lose and I’m only too pleased to help keep it going.”