Threat to Children’s Centres Revealed

Sunday, 8 September 2013
Andy Lewis
Andy Lewis, Labour “Cuts will cause childcare services to be overstretched.”

 

Somerset County Council has drawn up plans to shut most of the Children’s Centres that provide support to families with young children.

A public consultation exercise has begun. But behind the scenes, officials are already talking about closing all but 14 of the 41 county-run centres.

The scale of the proposed cuts by the County Council has been revealed by West Somerset Labour Party. Branch Secretary Andy Lewis said:

“The county council has begun one of its ‘public-but-secret’ consultation exercises. On the website, the council is asking for views. But little or no publicity has been given to this. The questions asked in the consultation are loaded – and the reality is that minds in County Hall have already been made up.

“I understand that the preferred plan is to close 27 of the 41 county-supported Children’s Centres. Voluntary organisations have been told this – with the suggestion that they can pick up the slack. But voluntary groups live a hand-to-mouth existence , in part because of uncertainties about funding from local authorities.

“As the county council website says: ‘Children’s Centres are at the heart of the strategy to deliver better outcomes for young children and their families.’ Yet now, this strategy is seemingly being abandoned. These cuts come at a time when planners have warned of a boom in the number of young children, that will cause childcare services to be overstretched.

“West Somerset has four Children’s Centres – in Alcombe, Dulverton, Watchet and Williton. Under such a drastic scheme of cuts, at least two of them would have to close.”

[The consultation on Children’s Centres opened on September 2nd and runs until October 28th. http://www.somersetconsults.org.uk/consult.ti ]

Andy Lewis

West Somerset Labour Party

01643 704778

07974 030753

westsomersetlabour@hotmail.co.uk