Community law centre saved from the axe by Brent Council budget U-turn

Council chiefs back track on plans to slash vital funding

A COMMUNITY law centre threatened with closure was given a reprieve as council chiefs back tracked on proposals to cut its entire funding.

People from across the political and economic spectrums had spoken out against the plans which could have spelled the end for the 38-year-old Brent Community Law Centre, in High Road, Willesden, that has helped thousands of vulnerable people.

Cllr Muhammad Butt, deputy leader of Brent Council and lead member for resources, announced to a packed council chamber that 88 per cent of its �226,000 funding would be protected for another year.

Staff at the centre, which advises on immigration, benefit, employment and housing issues, expressed their relief at the decision and thanked members of the public for coming out in support.

Desmond Mohabir, a solicitor, said: “We are quite relieved we are not being decommissioned but we will have to meet and work out how we will continue to survive. Twelve per cent is a huge amount of money to lose.

“But we are very grateful to all the former clients who spoke up for us and all those calling to offer their support and congratulations.”

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But the centre still faces a battle with government plans to restrict access to legal aid.

Cllr Ann John, leader of the council, said balancing the budget had been a difficult job in the face of draconian cuts forced upon them by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat government but some services were too important to cut.

Funding to advice centres the Citizens Advice Bureau and Private Tenants Rights Group were saved, albeit with a 12 per cent cut in funding.

She said: “We decided they were far too valuable to decommission. They have always done a good job and they will be needed more than ever.”