Spare our centres from budget cuts, Newham mayor urged

HUNDREDS of people have signed petitions calling on Newham’s Mayor to protect community centres and advice services ahead of tonight’s crunch budget meeting.

Local charities and organisations fear they may have to close or cut back their facilities unless they get support from council chiefs in this year’s settlement.

Their supporters presented a petition to Sir Robin Wales chiefs last Friday.

Bosses at Community Links are already drawing up plans to close two of their centres and lay off staff from the end of March.

Five other facilities, including the Arc in the Park adventure playground and youth club in Canning Town, are said to be “at risk”.

Mother-of-two Elizabeth McEwan, whose children use the centre, said: “Closing this centre would cause nothing but problems, with young people hanging about on the streets and getting in to trouble.”

Also potentially facing the axe are the legal advice services offered by the Newham Advice Consortium, a group of more than a dozen organisations including the local branches of Citizens’ Advice and Age Concern.

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A specific petition for people using the advice services attracted more than 300 signatures.