JOBS will be lost and opening hours reduced as a result of a merger of Citizen’s Advice Bureaux in the Winchester district.

The changes will come about in a cost-cutting measure that will see a new Winchester district CAB formed, which includes its counterparts in Bishop’s Waltham and the Meon Valley.

A NEW citizen’s advice bureau has been formed for Winchester after a cost-cutting merger.

Winchester District CAB formed on February 1 after the previous Winchester CAB joined its counterpart in Bishop’s Waltham and the Meon Valley.

The full consequences of the merger — which came into existence on February 1 — won’t be known until April.

The merger is to ensure the survival of both CABs, say bosses.

Jenny Meadows, chief executive of the Winchester branch, and now chief of the new district CAB, said the current staff of 13 would have to be reduced to keep both offices going, but nothing had been decided yet.

She said: “We are having to close both offices one day per week because of insufficient funding from the local authority, and some projects have been terminated because there is not enough money.

“There will be staff reductions. We are going through that at the moment, so nothing is known yet as we are still consulting with everyone, but there is not enough money to pay for everyone. “But fortunately we have lost no volunteers, who are all hanging in there.”

But she said the new CAB would keep both offices open and provide a consistent level of services with outreach support continuing in Wickham and Alresford.

Mrs Meadows added the CAB is actively looking to move from its base in the Winchester Centre in St George’s Street as it was too expensive.

She said: “We need somewhere that is cheaper and the city council have been very helpful in supporting us, but after staff the building is our biggest cost.”

It is the only voluntary group to remain in the offices, which held around a dozen until last year when many, including Winchester Area Community Action, relocated to city council offices in Colebrook Street.

Opening times will remain as normal until April, when staff and hour reductions will be finalised.