People power safeguards future of our JobCentre

DWP customer serices operations manager Emma Smith shakes hands with Ribble Valley Borough Council chief executive Marshal Scott at the council offices in Clitheroe
DWP customer serices operations manager Emma Smith shakes hands with Ribble Valley Borough Council chief executive Marshal Scott at the council offices in Clitheroe

A hard-fought campaign to keep a vital service in Clitheroe has been won with the announcement that the job centre is to stay in town.

Clitheroe JobCentre Plus, which has been based on Lowergate for decades, will move to Ribble Valley Borough Council’s offices in Church Walk later this year.

The announcement, which was made on Tuesday by the Department for Work and Pensions and RVBC chief executive Marshal Scott, has been welcomed by campaigners.

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, who lobbied relentlessly for the service to remain in town, said: “I am pleased with the news that the DWP have kept to their word and ensured that the services available at Clitheroe JobCentre will continue at Ribble Valley Borough Council offices.

“I campaigned heavily on this issue when the job centre was under threat of closure in 2014, when the ridiculous suggestion was that those who rely on Clitheroe JobCentre from outlying villages in the Ribble Valley were to be expected to travel into Blackburn to access support and services.

“I await the announcement as to what plans are in place for the building currently used as Clitheroe JobCentre, and have written to the DWP to ask for assurances that the transition of services will be as smooth as possible.”

The move, which will safeguard the employment service and five jobs, means that the 200 Ribble Valley residents who use JobCentre Plus in person each week will not have to travel to Blackburn, 11 miles and a £6.10 return bus fare away.

Speaking exclusively to the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times, the borough council’s chief executive Marshal Scott said: “Locating the centre at the council offices has advantages for both organisations and will be convenient for service users.”

He added: “We feel that rural residents some times get a raw deal and we have worked hard with the DWP to make sure the job centre remains in Clitheroe.

“We think that it is important that residents can come to Clitheroe rather than go to Blackburn.