Plans for Citizens Advice library move submitted

PEOPLE in Uckfield will be able to get free confidential advice and library services under one roof if plans are approved.

An application has been submitted to allow the town’s Citizens Advice branch to move from its current base at The Hub to Uckfield Library in the High Street.

If approved, the charity will be able to offer free, independent, confidential advice on issues such as money, benefits, housing and employment from the library run by East Sussex County Council.

Kate Davidson, Wealden Citizens Advice chief executive, said: “Our current base has served us well but it is an old, temporary building which is in urgent need of work.

“This move would give us an ideal opportunity to continue to support Uckfield residents who rely on our services from a more modern, permanent base, from where people need us – in the heart of Uckfield.”

Nick Skelton, East Sussex County Council’s assistant director for communities, said: “Our libraries are currently closed to protect our staff and the community from Covid-19, but work has continued behind the scenes to ensure everything is ready for when we are able to reopen.

“Having Citizens Advice in the library building would enhance its role as an important community resource. People who come to the charity for support would have access to library services such as free internet access and wifi, courses and advice, while library users may also benefit from having Citizens Advice in the same building.”

During lockdown, contractors have been able to safely install new carpet and decorate the rooms on the ground and first floor that the charity will use.

Cllr Spike Mayhew, Uckfield town mayor, said: “Citizens Advice do a fantastic job of helping people with advice and support on all kinds of issues and make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“We are really keen to do whatever we can to ensure they have a permanent base in the town centre, and we believe this is a move which will benefit the library, Citizens Advice and clients of both.”

The move would enable Citizens Advice to rent underused space in the library, while the income generated can be reinvested in library services.

Citizens Advice would continue to offer the same level of service at present, with no planned changes to opening hours.

The planning application will be considered by Uckfield Town Council and Wealden District Council before a final decision is made by East Sussex County Council’s planning committee.