Hammersmith Law Centre Protests Funding Cuts

Community Groups Try to Save Their Centres


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Solicitors from the Hammersmith Law Centre and community groups protested at the town hall last Wednesday over cuts to their budget.

The council, holding a full council meeting on June 27, had included a special motion which read: "The council welcomes the commitment of the current administration to support the voluntary sector in Hammersmith and Fulham."

However, the Hammersmith Law Centre, which had its budget cut by 61 per cent this year, said cutting funding to legal advice centres in the borough affected groups such as the Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum and Standing Together Against Domestic Violence, which had their funding increased.

Gail Bradford, a solicitor at the Hammersmith Law Centre, said: "Hammersmith and Fulham Refugee Forum and Standing Together against Domestic Violence were both set up by the law centre.

"We're delighted that these groups have got more funding.

"But both these groups need a solicitors firm to refer people, for housing advice and family law advice. They are not qualified to give this specialist advice.".

The law centre said they were not consulted and not given a chance to argue their case.

Ms Bradford said: "There was a cabinet meeting on 16 April when the funding cuts were agreed.

"Grant funding was not only cut to our group, it was cut to other voluntary sector groups.

"We were given 14 days over the bank holidays to prepare a five minute statement to the cabinet to defend ourselves."

The law centre in King Street provides legal advice and assistance to the local community. It advises local residents on immigration, asylum and nationality matters.

It has also sued Hammersmith and Fulham Council in the past.

Protestors from community groups also lobbied the council last Wednesday over the closure of community centres.

Tthe Hut Association building at 59 Godolphin Road, the South Lodge of Margravine Cemetery, the Castle Club in Broomhouse Lane and Wormholt Community Centre are to be sold off by the council as part of cost-cutting measures.

Also up for sale will be three buildings in Hammersmith Road which currently house the council young persons service, MIND and the Carers Centre.

The Hut Association has provided a community centre to the Shepherds Bush area for the past 20 years.

Petitions have been raised opposing the closures, which Ealing, Acton and Shepherds Bush MP Andy Slaughter will present at Parliament in the coming weeks.

July 5, 2007