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Community and advice centres facing closure after crippling budget cuts

PUBLISHED: 14:16 10 October 2012

(L-R) Lydia White, Christine Lee, Shamina Khanom, and Phyllis Friar, at the computer class in Appian Court Resource Centre, which is at risk of closure.

(L-R) Lydia White, Christine Lee, Shamina Khanom, and Phyllis Friar, at the computer class in Appian Court Resource Centre, which is at risk of closure.

Archant

Crippling budget cuts proposed by Tower Hamlets council are threatening the futures of community and advice centres across the borough.

The reduction in spending was set out by the Mayor and his cabinet during last week’s cabinet meeting, and has been met with outcry from opposition councillors and those providing the services.

Many services in the borough are to see their budgets slashed, despite more than £900,000 for grants remaining unallocated.

Appian Court Resource Centre in Parnell Road, Bow, is set to be hit with a 68 per cent cut in its grant.

Run by the charity Age Concern, the centre attracts up 60 visitors every day for breakfast clubs, IT and exercise classes days out.

Debbie Walker, who is chief executive for Age UK in East London, said: “If we cannot replace this funding, the options are either to close, to run a reduced service or to try to appeal for funding from elsewhere.

“We won’t be able to sustain the level of activity and opening hours on these proposed grants,”

Other organisations affected by the cuts include Tower Hamlets Law Centre, which is set to see its funding reduced by 56 per cent, prompting manager Sue Brown to write an open letter to the council.

She said: “At very least this will mean making expert staff redundant and turning away hundreds of people who desperately need help. At worst it could mean closing a service that has been giving access to justice to the community since 1974.”

Both organisations have now requested the council to review its decision, and a protest is to be held outside the centre at 1.30pm on Saturday.

Tower Hamlets council, though, insisted it was continuing to protect services through grants.

A spokeswoman said: “We are working to protect it despite unprecedented cuts to our budget as a result of central government cuts to our funding.

“We are in a very challenging economic climate in the context of having to deliver £100m worth of savings over the next few years. However, we are committed to protecting services for vulnerable residents and delivering the support that meets people’s needs.”


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