Post by Colin Henderson on Apr 13, 2012 22:16:36 GMT
This from Legal Action explains the cut but the good news is that Chris and the team at CLP are carrying on regardless:
"Community Legal Advice (CLA) has decided not to continue the national telephone helpline for Gypsies and Travellers, run by Community Law Partnership (CLP), after the existing contract finished at the end of March. This is a cost-cutting measure and CLA states that Gypsies and Travellers in England and Wales will be able to get advice through the national housing helpline.
The national helpline for Gypsies and Travellers was first set up as part of the Methods of Delivery Pilot in April 2002 and was, at that time, the only national helpline funded by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) (then through Community Legal Service Direct). Two years later, when it was decided to continue with the telephone helpline system, all helplines were made national. CLP has continued to provide the LSC-funded helpline to Gypsies and Travellers for the past ten years.
Chris Johnson, a solicitor and partner at CLP, commented: ‘Telephone advice can be an essential service for certain groups such as elderly people, those with mobility problems, people in rural areas a long way away from advice services and so on. Gypsies and Travellers are one of those groups. They are a small community and spread out across the whole of England and Wales. However, what CLA is failing to recognise is that the law relating to Gypsies and Travellers is extremely specialised. For example, someone advising a Gypsy or Traveller will often need to have knowledge of planning law if that Gypsy or Traveller is seeking to get permission for a Gypsy site. Most housing providers (understandably) do not have expert knowledge of planning law since they do not have to use such knowledge. Unfortunately, with the best will in the world, the CLA national housing helpline will not be able to answer many of the questions that will be asked by Gypsies and Travellers phoning that line.’
Speaking about telephone advice in general, Chris Johnson said: ‘Generally speaking I believe that face-to-face advice is much to be preferred and is often essential. There are circumstances where telephone advice works really well, as I have already mentioned, but it should always be seen as a complement to face-to-face advice and not as a replacement for face-to-face advice. With regard to the current proposals about a telephone gateway in certain areas of the law once the [Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill] becomes an Act, quite frankly I think this is a disastrous proposal.’
In response to CLA’s decision not to continue funding, CLP has set up its own national telephone helpline for Gypsies and Travellers: 0121 685 8677."