District council agrees to fund Newmarket's citizens advice bureau for another year but looks set to cut grant to West Suffolk CAB
A district council has agreed to fund Newmarket’s citizens advice bureau for another year – but it could be one of the last grants the authority gives to the organisation.
A one-year grant of £23,166 to West Suffolk CAB, which runs Newmarket’s branch at Foley House, was approved by members of East Cambridgeshire District Council’s operational services committee on Monday.
It could be the last grant given to the service, which is a lifeline for many East Cambridgeshire residents in the Newmarket area who need impartial help with issues like benefit, debt, and employment.
But Lewis Bage, the communities and partnerships manager, told councillors in his report: “Once the pandemic and its associated restrictions ease, the council’s housing and community advice service will seek to create a housing and advice hub in the Newmarket area.”
Cllr Christine Whelan, pictured, urged the Conservative-led council to extend the funding deal for two years, a move which was rejected.
“You must admit the good job Citizens Advice West Suffolk are doing in the south of our districtand the importance of having that down there,” she said. “We don’t know how long coronavirus is going to last and we don’t know what the fallout is going to be.”
Committee chairman Cllr David Ambrose Smith admitted it would give ‘stability’ to the service, but told members: “Later this year we will be reviewing the CAB against the housing advice service we have set up, and I think when we see that we will have a clearer way forward.”
East Cambridgeshire recently pulled funding from the Ely branch of the CAB, which was provided through Citizens Advice Rural Cambridgeshire, and took the services in house.
Cllr Mark Inskip, said: “A hub in Soham is certainly welcome to residents in and around Soham but really, whether it’s Soham or Ely,if you are in Dullingham or Wood Ditton or Ashley or Cheveley or even Bottisham then Newmarket is a much better location to go to and easier to access. If we said sorry, then next year it switches to a hub in Soham, I think we’re going to cause real difficulties for the residents in the south of the district.”