Diss Citizens Advice Bureau saved by members’ votes

A plan which would have seen the end of the Diss, Thetford and District Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has been derailed by its members.

Not enough of the charity’s members, voting on the proposal, were prepared to allow the CAB to merge into a wider Norfolk CAB, as proposed by its five trustees.

Although a majority of members, 14, voted in favour of the merger, 12 voted against, falling short of the 75 per cent majority vote needed, according to one member at the meeting.

The trustees, led by chairman, David Sice, held and extraordinary general meeting in September proposing the change, but a decision was postponed until Monday’s meeting at the Park Hotel, Diss, for the trustees to provide better proof that the merger was desirable.

But Jacob Ecclestone, a member who voted against the proposal, was so angered by how the affair has been handled, he has called for Mr Sice and secretary Geoff Young to resign.

He said: “We have twice asked them why financially it (the merger) is in the interests of the people of Diss and Thetford.

“No coherent financial case has come forward.”

Mr Ecclestone said he no longer had confidence the pair were right to take the charity forward.

Mr Sice declined to be interviewed but released a statement.

He said: “A majority of the membership welcomed the proposal that Diss and Thetford CAB should become part of a new county-wide service which would maintain current levels of service in Diss and Thetford. The trustees will now be exploring how we go forward. Bureau services are unaffected and operating as normal.”

He had previously told the Diss Express that a bigger charity would be better able to gain grants from bodies like the NHS, safeguarding services in this area.

But Graham Minshull, town mayor and representing Diss Town Council, a voting member, agreed not enough information had been given about the merger and voted against the proposal.

He said: “There were no guarantees the Diss office would be kept open.

“It didn’t seem to be thought through. It became apparent there was no plan for what they were going to do once it (the merger) went forward.”

Mr Minshull however did not add to the call for resignation, and said the vote demonstrated how well the charity is being run.