PEOPLE struggling with debts and legal problems have been rocked by the news that West Lancashire Citizens’ Advice Bureau has closed for good.
The office on Sandy Lane, Skelmersdale, closed for the final time last Friday, leaving the seven paid staff out of work.
In the last financial year the office helped 1,880 people, the equivalent of more than seven every working day.
Bureau chair Steve Barrett said: “It is with great regret that we have to make this announcement. Every effort is being made to contact existing clients to notify them of the situation and where possible suggest alternative sources of advice.” County Cllr Maggie Skilling, trustees vice-chairman, said: “We are extremely disappointed for staff and clients that we have had to take this decision during this difficult economic time. Last year we helped 1,880 people and I’m sure that would have increased this year. We have lost funding streams over the last 12 months and it has been very difficult for us to sustain the service.”
County Cllr Carolyn Evans, another trustee, added: “It’s a real shame for the clients. The volunteers and staff have done a lot of good work there. The chairman Steve Barrett has done all he can to keep the office going.”
Clare Pollard, chairman of Ashurst Tenants and Residents, said: “I’m shocked to hear the CAB has closed. It was a much needed and valued service and they have given a wonderful service to the people of West Lancashire.”
A West Lancs Council spokesman said: “We have been a long-time financial supporter of the CAB and are saddened by the news it has closed. It provided a much-needed service to local people and the council will work closely with the national CAB to see what options may be available in the future.” West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said: “I am saddened the Trustees have been forced into taking this decision. The CAB nationally has warned that legal aid cuts would lead to a catastrophic reduction in the help available and would impact on the capacity of the CAB network to maintain services at a time of growing need. I have written to the trustees of West Lancashire Citizens Advice Bureau, West Lancashire Council, Lancashire County Council and to the Prime Minister calling for action to right this dreadful situation.”