A LOCAL advice service has been ordered to close by its national association.

Derwentside Citizens Advice Bureau, which has offices in Stanley and Consett , has been suspended from membership of the association.

The national Citizens Advice says the move was made because of Derwentside’s continued failure to meet the standards required of all bureaux.

Membership standards are agreed by the 350-plus Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) in England and Wales to make sure that bureaux are well managed, financially sustainable and give consistently high quality advice.

Every CAB is subject to a three-yearly audit to ensure it meets these standards. Any bureau that has problems complying with membership standards is offered help and support to do this.

Nick Bussey, head of network development and support at Citizens Advice, said: “Suspending a bureau's membership of Citizens Advice is not a decision we take lightly.

“It can only happen after a long process of supporting a bureau’s trustees and management to try and take the action needed to meet the required standards for membership.

“This decision has been taken because of concerns about persistent problems with the way Derwentside CAB has been governed and managed its finances.

“I’d like to reassure clients that we have no concerns over the quality of advice which Derwentside CAB has been offering, and I’d like to thank staff and volunteers for their hard work and commitment.

“However, as its membership has been suspended the bureau must stop offering advice immediately, so we have been working with other bureaux in County Durham to make sure that people in Derwentside can continue to access advice."

From Wednesday, March 13, a dedicated telephone advice service, funded by Citizens Advice, will be in operation and those who are able to do so can travel to other local bureaux for drop-in or face-to-face services.

Current clients will be contacted to inform them how they can get advice from other bureaux in County Durham.

To find out how to access advice call 01388-660202.

No-one could be contacted for comment at the Derwentside bureau.