Hun­dreds fight job cen­tre clo­sure

Lennox Herald - - NEWS - Jenny Foulds

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

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