Four Citizens Advice centres in Dudley are to be closed down – with the charity combining services in one town centre base.
Drop-in centres in Dudley, Stourbridge, Brierley Hill and Halesowen will close in April and be replaced by what CAB bosses described as a new town centre ‘super service’ in Dudley House, Stone Street.
But the move has been criticised by Councillor Ken Finch, who represents the Castle and Priory ward.
He said: “This is going to be a disaster. So many people go to Citizen’s Advice and use it as a vital service. When we as councillors cannot help, we always send people there.
“Most the people who need places like this are either low paid or elderly. The elderly citizens are a forgotten army who need the help the most from places like this on issues such as accommodation.
“Even ex-service people when they are in need of support after being demobbed go to Citizens Advice because they are able to offer them the best support.”
However Laura Thomas, CEO, Citizens Advice Dudley Borough, said many local centres were already having to close early because of demand. She said a new super service would mean the CAB would not have to turn people away.
She said: “For a long time, Citizens Advice Dudley Borough’s local services have been frequently forced to close early as a result of overwhelming demand. This has often meant that people who really need our service have been turned away.
“To deal with as many cases as possible we have made the decision to close our four current building-based services and create a super service in the heart of Dudley. It will ensure we are able to offer assistance to all of those who need it.”
The Halesowen CAB is in the Cornbow shopping centre, Stourbridge’s is in Market Street, the Brierley Hill base runs out of the library in the High Street while the Dudley one is based in St James’s Road. They are expected to close on April 6 with the new centre opening on April 9.
Brierley Hill councillor Rachel Harris said: “I can only hope that the new centre works out best for everyone.”
Citizens Advice gives free advice to assist people with money, legal, consumer and other problems.