Public outcry as Penge Citizens Advice Bureau closes this Thursday

Councillors John Getgood, left, and Peter Fookes, right, are outraged by the decision.

Councillors John Getgood, left, and Peter Fookes, right, are outraged by the decision.

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THE Penge Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in Snowdown Close will close this Thursday, much to the outrage of the local community.

This follows the part-closure of Lewisham A & E and last year's closure of the CAB in Orpington, and is another reason for the area's public to feel aggrieved at the removal of a public service.

The council says the closure will contribute to total CAB service savings of £41,000 across the borough in 2013/14, while four outreach centres that provide a similar service will open in the locality, making up for the closure.

Labour Councillor John Getgood, who represents the Penge and Cator ward, said: "At a time when the public is dealing with changes to benefits, keeping the CAB really is a no brainer.

"While I have no objection to the outreach service being provided, it will simply not provide the same quality of facilities.

"The (Snowdown Close) office has excellent facilities - interview rooms where confidential information can be shared - making it ideal for the CAB."

Labour Councillor Peter Fookes represents the same ward, and is equally opposed.

He said: "I am totally against this decision - there is a very high need for these centres.

"As far as I'm concerned this is a cut too many."

Councillors Getgood and Fookes moved a motion at the January council meeting to save the CAB office, but the proposal was rejected by Bromley Conservatives with the Lib Dems abstaining.

The public has also expressed disappointment with the decision.

Andy Erlam, 62, who lives in Kent House Road, Beckenham and used to be a CAB area manager in Woolwich, said: "I think it's an appalling situation - Bromley Council should hang their heads in shame in cutting these services to those most in need in the Borough."

The council said: "We are working with Bromley Citizen’s Advice Bureau to develop the best possible way to deliver its services to members of the public across the borough.

"In Penge this includes four outreach venues to be opened from the March 4.

"Such an approach has already been adopted with success in Orpington and Biggin Hill with no reduction in service."

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