COUNCIL chiefs have defended not bailing out Redditch Citizens’ Advice bureau after residents questioned why more was not done to save the organisation.
Standard readers took to our Facebook page to blast the decision to let the bureau collapse while a group has now been formed on the social networking site called Save Our Redditch Citizens Advice Bureau, to urge residents to donate £5 each or support a small rise in their council tax to keep the service going.
But council leader Bill Hartnett said the CAB had never approached them for extra money. He said they had been granted £75,000 for 2015/16 but they had not bid for two other pots of money connected to debt advice which they were eligible for.
He also defended a recent decision to put £40,000 of unclaimed money by the voluntary sector back into the council’s savings against suggestions it could have been used to support the CAB.
“Redditch CAB never approached us for any further funding. If they had we could have considered it, however we understand Redditch CAB were simply unsustainable moving forward and that £40,000 would not have resolved the issues.”
But figures released to the Standard by trustees have revealed they requested almost £86,000 in 2014/15 and were given £80,000 and more than £79,000 for 2015/16 but were given £75,000.
An urgent meeting was held in January because Redditch CAB was experiencing delays in payments from the council and they were told by senior officers no additional funding was available to support them.
But Coun David Thain, a trustee until 2013, has questioned how the organisation was run and why no other bureau in the West Midlands was in the same position as Redditch CAB.
“I had reservations about the running of Redditch CAB in 2013 and resigned from the board of trustees because I believed the people who most needed CAB services were not being best served.”
But trustees rejected the claim and said Coun Thain had not made his concerns known at the time and resigned after losing his seat on Worcestershire County Council.