Cash woes finish free legal advice centre

A LEGAL advice centre which provides a life-line service for the most vulnerable Enfield residents has closed down.

The Enfield Law Centre, in Fore Street, Edmonton, shut its doors for the last time on Friday It failed to secure funding ahich would allow it stay open while servicing debts reportedly totalling £50,000.

It means that there now is nowhere in the borough for people on low income to go for free advice about housing, employment, welafare issues, and also matters concerning children.

900 people use the Centre each year for 10 years Now, bosses there blame Enfield Council for the closure.

Last month it refused to provide a loan of around £30,000 to tide the centre over until the end of the current financial year.

Enfield Council says the centre has been blighted by mis-management and that it cannot afford to bail it out.

Debts of £100,000 built up, but the sum owing now is understood to be half that.

Rosemary Grech founded Enfield Law Centre ten years ago as a charity. She has not been involved in its day-to-running for more than two year.

She claims she was sidelined in a power struggle.

She said: I’m shocked and saddened. All that was needed was a six month breathing space so we could bring down the debt. The council does not care.”

A council spokesman said: “The council cannot always be called upon to bail out for organisations with thousands of pounds of hard earned council taxpayers' because they have failed to run their organisation properly.

“Our duty is to spend council taxpayers' money wisely and to ensure front line, bread and butter services are fully funded first and foremost."

John Seear was Centre manager. He said: “We prevent people from losing their homes which saves the council money. We had a 100 per cent success rate in court.”

The authority says it gave over £250,000 to the Centre oin 2003. This is disputed by senior figures there. They say the authority simply passed on cash from Whitehall.

The childrens’ service, called Street Legal, is to move to Islington. The monthly drop-in service will continue for a short period before it is wound down.

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