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Tom Brake

Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington

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Minister turns down plea for benefit centre reprieve - Brake

February 9, 2005 12:01 AM

Sutton's local MPs Tom Brake and Paul Burstow led a delegation to see the Minister for Disabled People today to press her to reconsider the closure of the Sutton Disability Benefit Centre.

Staff at the centre had been shocked to learn last week that their Sutherland House office has already been brought by an offshore investment company, Golfrate, to be converted into a four-star Novotel and luxury apartments.

The MPs were joined by Jane Rodgers, the South West London Branch Secretary and Tony Ray the Regional Secretary of the PCSU.

The Minister made it clear that the decision to close had been made and despite the representations was not going to be changed.

Tom Brake MP said:

"The Government are going to push the closure through. What we must try and do now is extract some guarantees on continuity of service in the face to face meetings with the public and the on going relationship with local organisations like the CAB and NHS."

Commenting on the meeting Paul Burstow MP said:

"The Government is determined to export jobs out of London and close the Sutton DBC down. This is despite the fact that more than eight out of ten staff are classed as non-mobile so will not easily be redeployed to other jobs in the civil service.

"I remain unconvinced that the Minister has fully thought through the impact of the closure on people who rely on disability benefits. Access to face to face interviews with staff and other outreach activity will suffer.

"Although the Minister made it clear the closure will go ahead she gave the impression that there was a willingness to look for ways of helping staff.

ENDS