Citizen’s Advice due to return to King’s Lynn

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Norfolk Citizen’s Advice is hoping to reopen in Lynn soon, having been pushed to move out of its previous home by rising rent costs.

The service is likely to be available three rather than four days a week.

West Norfolk Council, which has withdrawn its financial support for Norfolk Citizen’s Advice, has announced it is paying towards two other advice services for the area.

Local activist Jo Rust, who set up a petition to save Lynn Citizen’s Advice, said: “It fragments a service that needs to be delivered as a whole. I am very concerned people are going to slip through the net and their needs are not going to be met.

“I suspect strongly there was a budgetary imperative to the this decision.”

However, West Norfolk councillor Adrian Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community, said: “All three organisations have worked hard together to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements.

“Their main aim being to ensure that members of the public, who need general advice or specialist advice about housing issues or money matters, can access it easily and they aren’t inconvenienced in any way. All three partners will adopt a no-wrong-door approach to ensure that no matter who contacts them for advice, they will ensure that they are referred to the appropriate agency quickly and effectively.”

Beginning today, the borough council is funding Shelter to provide debt advice and West Norfolk Advice Hub to provide housing advice as a consortium of local advice providers, led by Community Action Norfolk (CAN).

Steve Cheshire, chief executive of Norfolk Citizen’s Advice, said the district council used to pay £67,000 towards the service. He said Norfolk County Council has continued to fund the service in West Norfolk, with around £55,000 per year.

He said the new service has identified a possible new home, but planning permission will be required, which is likely to take a minimum of eight weeks. He would neither confirm nor deny rumours it is Hanse House, in South Quay.

Mr Cheshire said Citizen’s Advice dealt with 3,500 individuals in West Norfolk last year and demand is rising.

It employed one full time member of staff in Lynn and three part time. One part time employee remains with the service whilst the others have been made redundant.

Its team of 40 volunteers is being kept informed of progress.

A new tenant is now being sought for the former Citizen’s Advice base in St Nicholas Street.

Appointments with West Norfolk Advice Hub and Shelter will be available either at the borough council offices, in Chapel Street, or Shelter offices, in Hospital Walk.

Jonathan Clemo, Chief Executive of CAN, said: “We are committed to working with our partners to deliver the best quality advice to local people - whatever their needs.”

Michael Deakin, Shelter King’s Lynn Service Manager, said, “This funding means that we can offer even greater support to local people struggling to meet their housing payments. We’d urge anyone who’s struggling to come and see us as soon as possible, because it really can make all the difference.”