Calls for probe after staff quit crisis centre

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A leading councillor has called for an investigation into the City Counselling Centre amid claims that two-thirds of its staff have walked out in despair after a new boss took over.

Of 21 expert counsellors and supervisors, only four are left at the centre this week, it has been alleged.

Labour councillor, Nigel Long, is concerned they will no longer be able to provide vital services, many of which are funded by Milton Keynes Council.

These include drop-in sessions for people needing immediate help, as well as specialist counselling for victims of rape, assault or domestic violence.

The flagship centre, granted £180,000 a year from the council and NHS, has run quietly and successfully for two decades from its base alongside the Church of Christ the Cornerstone.

It provides counselling for a huge range of people in need, including carers, miscarriage sufferers, people with eating disorders and couples with marital problems.

It also helps hundreds of people referred through the NHS for depression or anxiety.

The centre’s own problems began when new chief executive officer, Julie Bierton, took over in July last year, claim counsellors who have left.

One told the Citizen: “It used to be the most fabulous community ever. We were all people who worked mainly voluntarily and the whole concept worked brilliantly.

“Over the past few months the atmosphere changed. Now it’s horrible. It is like flat out war based on bullying, fear and intimidation,” she claimed.

Last week the Citizen told how the MK Bereavement Service was homeless after having its lease at the centre inexplicably terminated.

Another counsellor alleged: “That is only the tip of the iceberg. We’ve tried writing to trustees to warn them the centre is in crisis but they just don’t seem to listen.”

Councillor Long said: “This centre has always had an excellent reputation. If things are going wrong we need an investigation to discover why. We also need to be sure they can deliver the services.”

This week Ms Bierton and chairman of trustees were unavailable for comment and did not respond to Citizen messages before we went to press.

An employee at the centre said they had been busy conducting interviews all day on Tuesday and Wednesday.