THE Jobcentre in Ilfracombe is to close by the end of March following the Government's decision to modernise" the service. Many in the town which has areas among the most deprived in Devon feared this outcome of a nationwide review of Jobcentre Plus

THE Jobcentre in Ilfracombe is to close by the end of March following the Government's decision to "modernise" the service.Many in the town - which has areas among the most deprived in Devon - feared this outcome of a nationwide review of Jobcentre Plus facilities by the Department of Work and Pensions.The fears were realised on Wednesday when Minister Caroline Flint announced Ilfracombe was one of seven Devon centres to close.The DWP claims its replacement will be a "comprehensive modern" and improved service for those on benefits and out of work.The blow was softened after Ilfracombe Town Council volunteered space in its new Ilfracombe Centre (expected to open in April) where users could still access some services.It is planned to hold Jobcentre Plus surgeries at least twice a week, while an electronic Job Point machine will be available whenever the centre is open, as will a dedicated phone to put people straight through to benefit advisers.Full details have yet to be finalised, but the closure will mean the next nearest Jobcentre Plus is in Barnstaple - those on low incomes who are required to go there will have to make a 22-mile round trip.The Mayor, Councillor John Swan, not happy at the decision, admitted it could have been far worse: "It's not the disaster that it might have been, but certainly not what we were hoping for at all," he said.