Battle to save Valley’s Jobcentre stepped up

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An emergency meeting was held this week to rally local support against the planned closure of Clitheroe Job Centre.

The meeting was held at the St Mary’s Centre, Clitheroe, with trade unions urging members working and living in the Ribble Valley to attend and share views as well as information on the proposal.

In a joint statement, Ian Gallagher (Blackburn TUC) and Peter Billington (Lancashire TUC) said: “The Department of Work and Pensions consultation exercise on the proposed closure of the Jobc entre is lasting a mere four weeks and ends on October 7th (next Tuesday).

“If the closure goes ahead, members of the public who currently use Clitheroe Jobcentre would have to travel to Blackburn.

“The DWP says this is only ‘11 miles away with good transport links’. This ignores anyone who lives to the east of Clitheroe town centre. For example, Gisburn is 18 miles away from Blackburn and Chatburn is 13 miles away.

“Not everyone has their own transport and the cost of using public transport has to be met from Jobseeker’s Allowance of £57-35 a week (age 16 to 24) or £72-40 a week (25 or over).

“The proposal also has implications for the wider issues of how public services are maintained in rural areas and of how smaller towns like Clitheroe can remain viable.”

A DWP spokesman claimed the proposals “take into account the needs of the most vulnerable claimants in Clitheroe, who we appreciate may not be able to travel to Blackburn”.

He added that DWP advisers would be available in an office a short distance from the current Jobcentre in Clitheroe, but Mr Billington said no specific details had, as yet, been provided.

Captain Elizabeth Smith, of he Salvation Army Corps in Clitheroe, who helped launch a weekly job club about a year ago, said: “We believe Clitheroe needs more help for the unemployed, not less.

“If theJobcentre was to close we feel it would have a wide reaching affect on the community and only make it harder for some to break out of the cycle of unemployment.”