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Marlow deputy mayor: we must not be 'elitist'
DISADVANTAGED people in Marlow need better representation rather than just focusing on the more affluent, according to the town’s deputy mayor.
Cllr Bob Johnson said Marlow Town Council has a responsibility to help all residents, not just the large swathes of well-off Marlovians.
His comments came after it was agreed in principle to issue a grant for the High Wycombe Citizens Advice Bureau (HWCAB) to set up a service in the town.
At last week’s resources committee meeting, he said: "It is important for us to consider our responsibilities to the wider population.
"We should not be seen to be elitist and representative of the few.
"We have a responsibility to pay attention to the widest possible population and for those who need someone to talk face to face to about problems.
"We are missing some people who are really in need. We have limited budgets but it is something we should probably support."
A previous service from the national charity, which seeks to provide impartial advice to those with financial and social problems, closed down due to lack of funding.
Despite being one of the wealthiest town in the area, the HWCAB says more needs to be done to help the struggling minority in Marlow.
Bucks County Council figures put the number of households "hard pressed" financially at six per cent in the South West Chilterns and Marlow area, which excludes High Wycombe.
And 2012 figures show 23.7 per cent of households in the area fall into the lowest income bracket of £20,000 or below.
In addition, pensioner poverty in Greater Marlow stands at six per cent and working age poverty at three per cent, according to data from poverty charity Church Urban Fund.
As well as its office in High Wycombe, HWCAB already provides a an Adviceline phone service, but wants to be on hand in Marlow to help those needing local face to face help.
HWCAB development manager Mary Nash said: "There is a recognition that within the town there are a lot more affluent people but that doesn’t mean that everyone is. If you are struggling, it is almost harder to be surrounded by money.
"The challenges are greater and there may be fewer people to talk to or to share with if you lose your job or find yourself in trouble.
"We understand there are difficulties for some people getting to Wycombe and there are also quite a lot of elderly people for whom travelling is a challenge."
Cllr Johnson received the backing of the majority of his council colleagues in voting for a £500 sum to help the HWCAB get a weekly surgery off the ground.
In February, an emergency ‘pop-up’ office was provided by the charity at All Saints Church Hall to help those facing financial problems as a result of the terrible flooding.
HWCAB is already funded by Wycombe District Council to the tune of £153,280, and staff hope a large lottery grant will help pay for the outreach centre, based in the Marlow Tourist Office from July.
The charity had asked Marlow Town Council for £1500 towards getting the service off the ground.
But with a nominal grant budget of £6000 and 26 applications for far this year, councillors felt £500 was appropriate.