Plea to reopen Monmouth's Job Centre

A FORMER Monmouth Town Councillor has made fresh calls to re-open the town’s Job Centreplus, more than six years after its closure.

Gary Whitcombe, who is the Party Leader of the Welsh Independent Party, called on the Department of Work and Pensions to re-instate the service at the former office on Priory Street, Monmouth.

Mr Whitcombe, 76, said it was ‘scandalous’ to close the centre when there are around 1,000 job seekers in Monmouth who have to make the 43-mile round trip to the Job Centreplus in Abergavenny.

He said: “I have had lots of complaints from people who find it hard to get to Abergavenny to complete their fortnightly registration and can wait as long as two or three hours for a bus back home, some having to take children with them.”

“Not everyone has access to the internet to use the online services and many cannot afford to travel to Abergavenny in this economic climate.”

“There are a lot of people coming to Monmouth, with thousands more to come when the new homes are built.

“I cannot understand why they shut it in the first place.”

Mr Whitcombe claims jobseekers are told they can go to Coleford seven miles away or Chepstow 21-miles away, but when they ask about it at the Abergavenny centre they are told they can’t go to either.

He said he has never been given a reason for the closure despite contacting the Jobcentreplus headquarters in Cardiff and London on numerous occasions.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said the branch was closed in 2007 following a full consultation and confirmed there are no plans to re-open the branch.

He said: “Our priority has always been to ensure people have access to the full range of our services - the majority of which are now available online, or over the phone.

“Consideration is given to Monmouth residents who are reliant on public transport when allocating appointments at other Jobcentres and we can consider reimbursement of travel expenses for some mandatory interviews.”

Mr Whitcombe will launch a petition calling for Jobcentre facilities to be made available in Monmouth for five days a week.

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