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Free legal advice in Cotswolds as repossessions rise

New, free legal advice services have been launched for Cotswold householders facing repossession as the credit crunch starts to bite.

The number of mortgage repossessions is soaring, with the Council of Mortgage Lenders forecasting 45,000 cases nationally in 2008, compared with 27,100 last year.

Now Cotswold District Council has joined forces with homeless charity Shelter and the Wiltshire Law Centre to provide legal advice to affected residents at Cirencester Possession Court and Swindon County Court.

The initiative, funded by a £10,000 Government grant to the District Council, is in addition to the service already provided by Shelter at Cheltenham County Court.

CDC Portfolio holder for Community Services Cllr Sir Edward Horsfall said: “The rising cost of living and current difficulties in the housing market mean more people are falling behind with their mortgage or rent payments.

“This in turn may lead to lenders and landlords seeking possession of the property. We hope this new, free service will help those who are facing the threat of homelessness.”

The advice offered is confidential, impartial and available to any resident of the District, whatever their personal circumstances.

Cirencester Possession Court, held at the town’s Magistrates’ Court, hears cases every two months, while Swindon County Court hearings are held weekly. Advisers will be on hand to offer help and representation to anyone who requests it.

The new court-based service is in addition to the comprehensive housing advice service provided by HomeView at Cirencester Business Park, Tetbury Road, on behalf of the District Council.

Cllr Horsfall added: “We strongly recommend that householders seek advice as soon as they get into financial difficulties. The earlier advice is sought, the greater the chances are of staying in your own home. It is also essential that that borrower or tenant attends the court possession hearing.”

Anyone worried about mortgage or rent arrears should seek advice as soon as possible from:

•    Shelter Gloucestershire, 0844 515 1286 Gloucester@shelter.org.uk
•    Wiltshire Law Centre, 01793 486926 Richard.hazell@wiltslawcentre.co.uk
•    HomeView on 08450 582 099

Source: Cotswold District Council

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