The Citizen’s Advice Bureau office in Ripon will close on Friday (March 18) following a reduction in grant funding from Harrogate Borough Council.
As a result, from Tuesday, April 12 the service will run from borrowed premises in the city.
It comes after the Craven and Harrogate District Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), which includes Ripon, received £50,000 less than the applied for amount from the council’s community grant scheme due to the authority being oversubscribed for funding applications.
However, the charity’s CEO Erica Cadbury has stressed that clients would still be able to access drop-in sessions as normal at Community House and Allhallowgate Methodist Church.
She said: “We are doing our very best to offer as many sessions as we can.
“We are open to the public almost as much as we were before although we have obviously had to change the hours to fit in with other organisations that use those buildings.
“We have got a message line where people can leave messages and somebody will be picking those up every day. If someone needs help we will ring them back immediately. We are also hoping to have a letter drop at Community House for post.
“We will have to see how it goes. It will be different but we are trying to put in as many IT and wifi systems that we can to enable use to provide as good a service as we possibly can.”
The branch was forced to move out of its existing premises at Sharow View due to health and safety concerns. Plans were under way to move next door to Community House. However as a result of the funding shortfall the move was deemed too expensive.
Ms Cadbury said: “We are continuing to look for accommodation in Ripon but at the moment there really isn’t anything suitable. We are looking at all the options.”
While there were fears the service could move to Harrogate and out of the city all together, Ms Cadbury said all of the service’s 21 volunteers and four staff would remain in Ripon, apart from one who worked one day a week.
“We will have most of our facilities in Ripon. The back office work will be done from Harrogate and the main phone number is Harrogate because we don’t have a permanent phone line, however we will have phones to use when we are advising.
“The message I would give to people is please come and see us. We are there and we don’t want people to be put off. We will be there offering the highest quality advice as ever.”
Last year Harrogate Borough Council gave a grant of £114,000 to the bureau, but from next month that has been reduced to £70,000.
The council has maintained that the only way to increase funding for the CAB, would be to reduce the amount that has been awarded to the other organisations through its Strategic Grant Fund.
As a result Craven and Harrogate District CAB has launched a fundraising campaign to keep the charity going.
Staff and volunteers are hoping to raise £50,000 to make up for the shortfall in funding.
Ms Cadbury said: “We have had some small donations, which have been wonderful because it has enabled us to go ahead and buy some new laptops and IT equipment.
“We are also making applications to bigger funds like the lottery to enable us to continue our work.”
To help email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.justgiving.com/cravenharrogate-districtsCAB
The new services are:
Community House in the Garden Room
Tuesday 9.30am - 3.30 pm
Allhallowgate Methodist Church
Wednesday 9.30am - noon
Thursday noon - 3.30pm
Friday 9.30am - noon
Existing clients can leave messages on 01423 560840 concerning their current enquiry or appointment.
New enquiries can be made on 03444 111 444