Cross Street Law Centre head Kathy Smith says legal aid changes are forcing it to close

Left to right: Cross Street staff Claire Edwards, Kathy Smith, Ellen Edwards and Steve Young.

Left to right: Cross Street staff Claire Edwards, Kathy Smith, Ellen Edwards and Steve Young.

First published in News
Last updated
News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

THE head of an Erith law centre says it is having to close because changes to legal aid have made it impossible to survive.

Cross Street Law Centre will shut its doors for the last time at the end of March after CEO Kathy Smith said its income had been slashed by 60 per cent.

She claims the centre’s woes started in April when the government sought to save £350m by withdrawing legal aid from certain types of actions including employment and the majority of welfare benefits and debt cases.

It is these areas in which Cross Street specialises, serving 1,500 clients a year for whom the centre secured £817,826 in 2013.

Ms Smith says the majority of these will now be denied legal representation as they won’t be able to afford the fees charged by private solicitors.

She told News Shopper: "We are going back to where it is only the rich and well off who get legal help and get justice - I just think that is appalling.

"I think it should be a right that you get access to justice.

"The people on benefits who have been wrongly turned down are going to struggle.

"It is the end of an era and it is very sad."

The business opened in 2006 and has already made two redundancies with three more paid staff and six volunteers set to go.

A grant from Bexley Council paying one worker’s salary runs out in June and no more funds are forthcoming.

A Bexley Council spokeswoman said: “The Cross Street Law Centre has been affected by the national changes in the legal aid budget.

“The council funded a two year project at the Cross Street Law Centre that involved working with Carers Support to help carers and individuals access the support they may be entitled to.

“The project helped to train volunteers to provide advice and representation. The project comes to an end in June 2014.

“The council is now working with advice agencies across the borough and the Bexley Voluntary Service Council to look at how we can continue to ensure that people can access advice across the borough.”

Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce branded the closure a “tragedy”.

She said: "The law centre has been a longstanding resource for disadvantaged people, offering them free and independent legal advice when needed most.

“The staff are exceptional and have been trying to keep the law centre open on a shoestring.

"But it seems with the funding cuts they will have no option but to close their doors leaving many, many people without access to legal advice and therefore without access to justice.”

Comments (14)

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6:17pm Tue 14 Jan 14

white rabbit9 says...

The courts are becoming privatized, the judge makes the decisions now. Private corporations with the most money ie not the individual but big corporations will always win in court because the judge will be on the books of the biggest company. Corruption corruption.
The courts are becoming privatized, the judge makes the decisions now. Private corporations with the most money ie not the individual but big corporations will always win in court because the judge will be on the books of the biggest company. Corruption corruption. white rabbit9
  • Score: -54

6:35pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Gypo.Joe says...

white rabbit9 wrote:
The courts are becoming privatized, the judge makes the decisions now. Private corporations with the most money ie not the individual but big corporations will always win in court because the judge will be on the books of the biggest company. Corruption corruption.
Not unless you belong to the secret hand shake gang WR9.
It has it's benefits, only thing the Guinness is more expensive there than the rugby club. Its a trade off though I suppose.

THAnK yoU
[quote][p][bold]white rabbit9[/bold] wrote: The courts are becoming privatized, the judge makes the decisions now. Private corporations with the most money ie not the individual but big corporations will always win in court because the judge will be on the books of the biggest company. Corruption corruption.[/p][/quote]Not unless you belong to the secret hand shake gang WR9. It has it's benefits, only thing the Guinness is more expensive there than the rugby club. Its a trade off though I suppose. THAnK yoU Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 40

7:41pm Tue 14 Jan 14

mouthalmighty says...

Here we go. What are us poor people going to do now. They're taking everything from us. What's next? The clothes of our backs?
Here we go. What are us poor people going to do now. They're taking everything from us. What's next? The clothes of our backs? mouthalmighty
  • Score: 13

8:33pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Gypo.Joe says...

It's the NWO that's to blame.

Funded of course by the Rothschilds.

I'm busy learning the word to Hava Nagila, just in case.

Hava nagila
Hava nagila
Hava nagila ve-nismeḥa
Hava neranenah
Hava neranenah Hava neranenah ve-nismeḥa
Uru, uru aḥim!
Uru aḥim be-lev sameaḥ
Uru aḥim, uru aḥim!
Be-lev sameaḥ


Come on WR9 sing up you shmeckle.
It's the NWO that's to blame. Funded of course by the Rothschilds. I'm busy learning the word to Hava Nagila, just in case. Hava nagila Hava nagila Hava nagila ve-nismeḥa Hava neranenah Hava neranenah Hava neranenah ve-nismeḥa Uru, uru aḥim! Uru aḥim be-lev sameaḥ Uru aḥim, uru aḥim! Be-lev sameaḥ Come on WR9 sing up you shmeckle. Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 50

9:35pm Tue 14 Jan 14

white rabbit9 says...

Are you suggesting the ROTHSCHILDS are jewish? Proves you do not do any research what so ever, they are not jewish, they are khazarian. The Rothschilds got their name from RED STAR. If you did your history the red star was a (red hexagram). Israel is a zionist political organization nothing to do with jews. Blimey do you know anything?
Are you suggesting the ROTHSCHILDS are jewish? Proves you do not do any research what so ever, they are not jewish, they are khazarian. The Rothschilds got their name from RED STAR. If you did your history the red star was a (red hexagram). Israel is a zionist political organization nothing to do with jews. Blimey do you know anything? white rabbit9
  • Score: -20

9:52pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Gypo.Joe says...

I'm not suggesting anything. I'm just fishing for a reply from you. I knew you couldn't resist.
If I was to say rollmops, Stamford Hill, or White Hart Lane what do you see ?
I'm not suggesting anything. I'm just fishing for a reply from you. I knew you couldn't resist. If I was to say rollmops, Stamford Hill, or White Hart Lane what do you see ? Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 16

10:16pm Tue 14 Jan 14

white rabbit9 says...

Gypo.Joe wrote:
I'm not suggesting anything. I'm just fishing for a reply from you. I knew you couldn't resist.
If I was to say rollmops, Stamford Hill, or White Hart Lane what do you see ?
I COMPLETE DICK!! lol Bumpkins don't ya just love em.
[quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: I'm not suggesting anything. I'm just fishing for a reply from you. I knew you couldn't resist. If I was to say rollmops, Stamford Hill, or White Hart Lane what do you see ?[/p][/quote]I COMPLETE DICK!! lol Bumpkins don't ya just love em. white rabbit9
  • Score: -18

10:21pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Gypo.Joe says...

Make ya mind up. I thought I was boxhead.

Perleaaaaassssssssss
ssseeeeeeeeeee
Make ya mind up. I thought I was boxhead. Perleaaaaassssssssss ssseeeeeeeeeee Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 20

11:31pm Tue 14 Jan 14

white rabbit9 says...

Gypo.Joe wrote:
Make ya mind up. I thought I was boxhead.

Perleaaaaassssssssss

ssseeeeeeeeeee
Oh no you still are a BOX HEAD + BUMPKIN.
[quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: Make ya mind up. I thought I was boxhead. Perleaaaaassssssssss ssseeeeeeeeeee[/p][/quote]Oh no you still are a BOX HEAD + BUMPKIN. white rabbit9
  • Score: -10

1:57am Wed 15 Jan 14

Gypo.Joe says...

white rabbit9 wrote:
Gypo.Joe wrote:
Make ya mind up. I thought I was boxhead.

Perleaaaaassssssssss


ssseeeeeeeeeee
Oh no you still are a BOX HEAD + BUMPKIN.
Joe spoke very highly of you too, I think he said some thing about you being a muvers cant, whatever that is.
Did you know he is a member of the BNP ? My lips are sealed though.


Fraped again Joe...LOL
[quote][p][bold]white rabbit9[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: Make ya mind up. I thought I was boxhead. Perleaaaaassssssssss ssseeeeeeeeeee[/p][/quote]Oh no you still are a BOX HEAD + BUMPKIN.[/p][/quote]Joe spoke very highly of you too, I think he said some thing about you being a muvers cant, whatever that is. Did you know he is a member of the BNP ? My lips are sealed though. Fraped again Joe...LOL Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 6

11:18am Wed 15 Jan 14

Gypo.Joe says...

Gypo.Joe wrote:
white rabbit9 wrote:
Gypo.Joe wrote:
Make ya mind up. I thought I was boxhead.

Perleaaaaassssssssss



ssseeeeeeeeeee
Oh no you still are a BOX HEAD + BUMPKIN.
Joe spoke very highly of you too, I think he said some thing about you being a muvers cant, whatever that is.
Did you know he is a member of the BNP ? My lips are sealed though.


Fraped again Joe...LOL
You'll be looking for a new job soon son !

Think about it.

I'm being Dad today.
[quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]white rabbit9[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: Make ya mind up. I thought I was boxhead. Perleaaaaassssssssss ssseeeeeeeeeee[/p][/quote]Oh no you still are a BOX HEAD + BUMPKIN.[/p][/quote]Joe spoke very highly of you too, I think he said some thing about you being a muvers cant, whatever that is. Did you know he is a member of the BNP ? My lips are sealed though. Fraped again Joe...LOL[/p][/quote]You'll be looking for a new job soon son ! Think about it. I'm being Dad today. Gypo.Joe
  • Score: 17

12:29pm Wed 15 Jan 14

PaulErith says...

Gypo.Joe wrote:
Gypo.Joe wrote:
white rabbit9 wrote:
Gypo.Joe wrote: Make ya mind up. I thought I was boxhead. Perleaaaaassssssssss ssseeeeeeeeeee
Oh no you still are a BOX HEAD + BUMPKIN.
Joe spoke very highly of you too, I think he said some thing about you being a muvers cant, whatever that is. Did you know he is a member of the BNP ? My lips are sealed though. Fraped again Joe...LOL
You'll be looking for a new job soon son ! Think about it. I'm being Dad today.
Ah, are you in the 'WR9 Boxhead Club' too. He's made me an honoury member of that too. lol! Apparently you join the club if you don't agree with him and have your own opinion.
[quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]white rabbit9[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Gypo.Joe[/bold] wrote: Make ya mind up. I thought I was boxhead. Perleaaaaassssssssss ssseeeeeeeeeee[/p][/quote]Oh no you still are a BOX HEAD + BUMPKIN.[/p][/quote]Joe spoke very highly of you too, I think he said some thing about you being a muvers cant, whatever that is. Did you know he is a member of the BNP ? My lips are sealed though. Fraped again Joe...LOL[/p][/quote]You'll be looking for a new job soon son ! Think about it. I'm being Dad today.[/p][/quote]Ah, are you in the 'WR9 Boxhead Club' too. He's made me an honoury member of that too. lol! Apparently you join the club if you don't agree with him and have your own opinion. PaulErith
  • Score: 20

1:08pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Pogue Smith says...

This is a real loss to poor people in Bexley Borough. There is nowhere else they can go for free legal advice. The Citizens Advice is great for generalist advice, but they do not give the level of specialist legal advice the Law Centre does. The Council is short sighted not to give Cross Street law centre funding, given the preventative work the law centre does. The loss of the law centre will mean more homeless people going to the council, more people being deprived of benefits and more people being unfairly dismissed. The law centre has brought £1,946,000 into the borough since it started. This includes benefits gained and employment cases won.
This is a real loss to poor people in Bexley Borough. There is nowhere else they can go for free legal advice. The Citizens Advice is great for generalist advice, but they do not give the level of specialist legal advice the Law Centre does. The Council is short sighted not to give Cross Street law centre funding, given the preventative work the law centre does. The loss of the law centre will mean more homeless people going to the council, more people being deprived of benefits and more people being unfairly dismissed. The law centre has brought £1,946,000 into the borough since it started. This includes benefits gained and employment cases won. Pogue Smith
  • Score: 20

8:49pm Wed 15 Jan 14

white rabbit9 says...

Ah, are you in the 'WR9 Boxhead Club' too. He's made me an honoury member of that too. lol! Apparently you join the club if you don't agree with him and have your own opinion.

This is not opinion, I STATE FACT, TRUTH!! You can't debate FACT!! TRUTH!!
Ah, are you in the 'WR9 Boxhead Club' too. He's made me an honoury member of that too. lol! Apparently you join the club if you don't agree with him and have your own opinion. This is not opinion, I STATE FACT, TRUTH!! You can't debate FACT!! TRUTH!! white rabbit9
  • Score: -70

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