In your article, entitled “A Campaign Too Far“, there were several accusations levelled at our branch’s endeavour to re-establish a job centre in Rye, which I am now responding to.
First, you appear to reject our use of the term “drop-in Job Centre” to describe the former service at Tilling Green Community Centre.
There is much pre-existing information about the Rural Employability Project which operated from Tilling Green detailing what a vital and multifaceted service this was. I was interested particularly in a 2015 article in Rye News, entitled “Finding the Right Job“.
Here I was able to read about the drop-in sessions which ran three days a week; the additional support that was supplied by Job Centre Plus, rural advisers, benefit advisers from the charity Harc, National Careers Service and how all this was funded by the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions].
If what you describe back in 2015 does not constitute a job centre – a space provided by the government where people can get advice and look at job advertisements to get back into work – then I’m not sure what does.
I also note, your claim that the journey time it could take claimants coming from Camber to St Leonards – where the service has been relocated – was exaggerated. The Stagecoach website proves this is not the case. For example, if you were to take the 13:50 bus from Camber, you could expect to arrive at Warrior Square at 15:40, without taking into consideration walking time or delays between buses.
Last, the piece states we were asked directly about the journey costing up to £13.00 and that we then “admitted” there was a Stagecoach Dayrider Return. In fact, you asked us if we were happy with a statement which included, amongst other important details, the information about the £13 fee. We then voluntarily offered information about the return, which claimants could use if they had the time and flexibility to spend nearly four hours on a bus.
Unfortunately, many people who need to use a job centre, do not have unlimited amounts of free time simply because they are unemployed. Many – including those who our campaigners have been speaking with – have children or other responsibilities. It is very reasonable therefore to suggest those people would need to use the quicker more expensive routes of bus and then train.
I finish by noting Amber Rudd responded to our letter concerning the matter on July 22 and made no mention of her plans which you have outlined. Instead she told us she would be talking to the Job Centre Manager to “seek his comments” about the previous service.
Whilst we are pleased to see that Amber Rudd has had a change of tack and is committing to reinstating the service in the new Wellness Hub, there is a need for the service to be replaced in Rye now.
Our petition has been signed by over 300 residents and from door-knocking in the local area, we’ve been informed by many that they find the trip to the Job Centre in St Leonards a challenge – in terms of the cost, time and unreliable public transportation. If Amber Rudd sees the value of the service, she will commit to reinstating it now.
Editor’s note: As always with any political statement of this kind, it is possible to pick holes in much of the argument, above . However as we have no political affiliations, the only comment I would make is that I completely stand by all the observations and facts in my Opinion piece last week.
You quite rightly asked for a commitment from Amber Rudd that she will reinstate the service and I am glad to be able to tell you that, having contacted her office, this is going to be done – the intention being to provide a better service than before – and it will be in place in the “upcoming months” and will be at Rye Hospital.
Although not stated, the timing suggests that it will possibly be at the new Hub, currently under construction, and which would seem to be a logical place.
Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .