Hundreds fight job centre closure
Hundreds of residents have added their signatures to a petition opposing the closure of Alexandria Job Centre.
The Lennox Herald reported last week that the Bank Street office is set to shut with all services transferred to Dumbarton, nearly four miles away.
Politicians fear the decision will result in more benefit sanctions for families in poverty across the area.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced the shock decision two weeks ago, which comes on the back of eight branch closures in Glasgow.
Members of the Dumbarton and Vale branches of the SNP assembled at Mitchell Way on Saturday and collected signatures for a petition organised by West Dunbartonshire MP Martin Docherty-Hughes.
Dumbarton SNP’s vice-convenor Caroline McAllister said: “Isn’t it a pity that in 2014 we declined the very powers that would have protected this job centre?.
“The problem with being governed by people who live and work so very far away is that they don’t see the huge detrimental impact of their decisions on local people.”
Chris Pollock, treasurer of Vale SNP branch, added: “Westminster cuts must not affect the job prospects of our local community.
“If this closure goes ahead it will make it harder for local people to get work.”
Margo Rhead from the Dumbarton branch said: “The petition has really taken off. It feels good to do something about it.”
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the trade union that represents DWP workers, has condemned the closure announcement.
Member Ian Pope said: “PCS is outraged at the decision to close this office. It provides important public services for the community and provides much needed local jobs for the people of the area.
“PCS is calling on DWP to reconsider the decision. We believe that Alexandria needs a job centre.”
The DWP say they will not consult on the closure because the distance from the doomed centre to Dumbarton Job Centre in the town’s Meadowbank Street is “just three miles”. Consultations only apply when the centre to be closed is more than three miles from the nearest alternative.
But maps put the Alexandria office 3.6 miles away from the Dumbarton branch, according to the quickest driving distance.
The UK Government has defended the closure, saying many job centre buildings are now underused.
Damian Hinds, minister for employment, said: “We are concentrating our resources on what we know best helps people into work.”
The petition is online at martindocherty.scot.
Campaigners MP Martin Docherty-Hughes and protesters outside Alexandria Jobcentre