Sheffield & South Yorkshire

'Under-used' Doncaster job advice centres may close

A service to help people in Doncaster back into work has been threatened with closure.

Doncaster Council said four Opportunity Centres at Denaby, Stainforth, Intake and Rossington were under used.

The Opportunity Centres opened in 2010 to help with job searching, CV writing, training, advice and financial support.

A council report said only 267 people had found jobs with the help of the Opportunity Centres but it cost about £1,200 for every job filled.

Lose their libraries

"Whilst there is no doubt the Opportunity Centres have had a positive impact in the local communities within which they are located, the take-up is not high," the council report said.

The authority, run by English Democrat mayor Peter Davies, said it had considered five options, one of which was to close all the Opportunity Centres.

Instead it recommended that all centres were retained in their current locations using "other council service facilities", but if alternatives could not be found, the four un-funded centres should close.

Denaby and Stainforth are due to lose their libraries as well as the Opportunity Centres as Doncaster Council seeks to save £70m from its budget over four years.

Doncaster resident Lynn Coppendale, who is campaigning against the closure of Doncaster's libraries, said the Opportunity Centres were a "fantastic complementary service to job centres" and offered "hands-on support at the heart of the community".

'Pick on'

Ms Coppendale added that Denaby, Stainforth, Intake and Rossington were "picked on" because of their demographic: "It does seem to be the more run-down areas... I wonder if [the council] thinks the residents of those areas are so demoralised by now that they'll just think, 'oh it's something else. Never mind', and not do anything about it."

She said: "Traditionally those who do kick up a stink are perhaps more affluent and educated areas, and those with jobs... Maybe the thinking behind it, perhaps not even consciously, is that they're going to pick on the areas that they think won't put up a fight and these places will close without anybody saying anything."

There are 10 Opportunity Centres in Doncaster: Balby, Denaby, Woodlands, Intake, Askern, Edlington, Mexborough, Bentley, Stainforth and Rossington. An 11th is planned for Thorne Library.

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