‘Positive’ talks on King’s Lynn CAB

GV of the King's Lynn Citizens Advice Norfolk Branch in St Nicholas Street ANL-160327-122320009
GV of the King's Lynn Citizens Advice Norfolk Branch in St Nicholas Street ANL-160327-122320009

“Progress” may have been made in crunch talks between council leaders and Norfolk Citizen Advice Bureau over the future of the service in Lynn.

Head of Norfolk CAB Steve Cheshire announced two weeks ago that St Nicholas Street office will be closing in June after West Norfolk Council withdraw its £67,000 funding.

The council has tendered for two advice contracts to provide debt and housing support.

Talks were held between Mr Cheshire and council leader Nick Daubney on Friday last week.

Both sides have hailed the talks as positive.

But the future shape of advisory services in West Norfolk still remains unclear.

Mr Cheshire said: “The talks were productive and an opportunity for a new look at how we move forward to provide a Citizen’s Advice service in the west of the county with the borough’s support.

“Both parties are looking forward to producing an outcome that satisfies both Norfolk CAB and the council.”

Mr Daubney also echoed the sentiments that it was a positive meeting.

He said: “We all want to find a way to proceed in the future.

“We just want to make it clear that the funding was there to provide the service. I think the CAB have made their point that there’s other things to be done and that has been taken on board.

“It was a good meeting and important that we met to clear the air.

“At the end of the day, it is the people who are at the sharp end who need the service.”

While no firm decisions have been taken on the future of the service, the one idea is to open small outreach offices in other services such as Sure Start Centres or medical practices.

Mr Daubney added: “We need to work closely together and we need low cost solutions.

“We do encourage talk about sharing premises.

“We have invited them to tender to deliver a counselling service.

“They have made their point that they would like other services. We are all happy to talk about that.

“I can’t pretend there was a finite conclusion but we both recognised the need for the service and to work together to make it happen.”

The CAB helps more than 2,000 people a year at the Lynn branch and also receives £55,000 from Norfolk County Council but needs £100,000 to run the branch.

A petition started by trade unionist Jo Rust last week has now received 512 signatures.

Mrs Rust is pleased with the response and now hopes to collect 1,000 signatures to present to the council.

She said: “It is really to demonstrate to the council, the strength of support for the general advice services provided by the CAB.

“Local people feel very strongly that the if they moved to a specialist support service which only covers income maximisation and housing, there will be a lot of people in Lynn and the surrounding area will miss out on a valuable advice which could make a difference of their lives.”

Mrs Rust also added that most issues overlap and do not fit into a single thing.

People can sign the petition at the Change.org website.