CONCERNS have been raised over the decision to close the Citizen’s Advice Bureau office in Northwich.

Citizens Advice Cheshire West confirmed that both its office in Meadow Court, Northwich and the one in Ellesmere Port would close, in a bid to maintain social distancing for the safety of clients, volunteers and staff.

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Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury said he was ‘very concerned’ a much used service would be closed and said how disappointed he was that both he and Ellesmere MP Justin Madders had not been consulted about the decision.

He said: “Both Justin Madders MP and I recently held an online meeting with Geoff Hope-Terry, chair of trustees at West Cheshire CAB.

“We expressed concern at the lack of consultation over the changes and the fact the new model still seems to be in its infancy and yet key decisions have already been taken, including the closure of their Northwich office.

“CAB is now developing a hub and outreach model – with offices in Winsford, Chester and eventually Ellesmere Port, together with Community Access Points at community venues throughout the district. When they are in a position to do so they will share the details with stakeholders and the local community.

“I and council colleagues are willing to help in identifying suitable premises where there are any gaps. The CAB provides a good and valued service and we want that to continue.”

Explaining the closures, the charity’s new Chief Executive, Jason Bishop said: “The covid pandemic has changed the way clients access Citizens Advice support and we have seen a large increase in telephone and digital.

“As a result we have introduced a free telephone service and email advice to make it easier for clients to contact us.

“Dedicated access points will be safe and confidential places where people can use our services in a variety of ways.

“This could be as simple as using a telephone at the venue to call our free adviceline, or it could be by having a pre-arranged face-to-face appointment with one of our staff or volunteers.

“Access points can enable people to have a video appointment, and they will often be places that our clients already go to for other support (such as foodbanks or community centres, or schools).

“Our ambition is to have an access point in every council ward in Cheshire West and Chester.”

The charity will retain a presence in Wyvern House in Winsford as its head office and they will be keeping the interview room space they have there.

“Exactly how we deliver our services from the access points depends on a number of things,” he added.

“Firstly, the government’s roadmap out of Covid.

“At present, the advice is that everyone should work from home if they can, and this is not due to change until June 21.

“At all times, we will take the safety of our staff, volunteers and clients into account, and carry out appropriate risk assessments before restarting in-person services.”