End of line for Haringey law centre

A LONDON law centre described as a “non-hierarchical classic 1970's collective” is finally to close after a long-running battle with the local council which funds it.

Tottenham Law Centre has had its £200,000-a-year funding stopped by Labour-controlled Haringey Council.

The law centre will close on 31 December with redundancies for its 10 staff and will be replaced with new staff and management, on 1 January.

The centre's current staff includes an ex-lawyer once found guilty of fraud.

The centre has lost its fight to stay open despite a campaign alleging race bias. A campaign statement said: “The majority Labour Group voted for closure… WHY? Is it because the centre has a predomincally (sic) black and ethnic minority management and staff which reflect the make-up of the population to (sic) Tottenham?”

The centre says there is no justification for closure and that local people will suffer.

But Haringey councillor David Coates, in charge of reviewing the centre, said it failed to address problems of lack of proper management, poor legal aid performance and lack of monitoring systems for caseload, resources, complaints or staff discipline after repeated requests.

One council member said of the centre: “There's nobody in charge. It's a classic 70's collective that has not moved with the times.”

The Law Society said Roger Bronkhurst, who according to Coates worked for the centre, was struck off in 1989 and later sentenced to 21 months for using a forged document in connection with his practice.

The centre was unavailable for comment.