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Protests ahead of children’s centres decision

PUBLISHED: 17:11 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:11 13 July 2020

Waveney Labour Party group members involved in a socially distanced protest at the Uplands Children�s Centre in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

Waveney Labour Party group members involved in a socially distanced protest at the Uplands Children�s Centre in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

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Campaigners have protested against a proposed shake-up of children’s centres in Suffolk.

Waveney Labour Party group members involved in a socially distanced protest at the Uplands Children�s Centre in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesWaveney Labour Party group members involved in a socially distanced protest at the Uplands Children�s Centre in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

A final decision on a review of children’s centres in Suffolk – including those in Waveney – is set to be made on Tuesday, July 14, with it recommended to develop a Family Hub model across the county.

The Uplands Children�s Centre in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesThe Uplands Children�s Centre in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

The proposals comprise full-time and part-time Family Hubs, that “will provide local, social, educational, health and wellbeing support to the whole family” at venues that are “accessible, affordable, and close to where people live,” according to council chiefs.

The Uplands Children�s Centre in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesThe Uplands Children�s Centre in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

In Waveney, the proposed full-time family hubs would be situated at Kirkley, Riverside and The Ark in Lowestoft and at Butterflies in Beccles.

The Uplands Children�s Centre sign in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesThe Uplands Children�s Centre sign in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

Village Rise Children’s Centre in Lowestoft is earmarked to remain open as a part-time family hub instead of being re-purposed for nursery provision, while The Uplands Children’s Centre in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft is proposed to be re-purposed for nursery provision.

The Uplands Children�s Centre sign in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesThe Uplands Children�s Centre sign in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

Dragonflies in Halesworth would also become a part-time family hub under the proposals.

The Uplands Children�s Centre sign in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesThe Uplands Children�s Centre sign in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes

With final proposals to be discussed at Suffolk County Council’s cabinet meeting on July 14, it recommends 17 centres remaining open full-time across the county, 11 will be open part-time, eight will be “re-purposed” as either nursery or school provision and two centres in Ipswich and Woodbridge would close entirely.

With signs displaying ‘Stop the cuts to The Uplands’, protesters from the Waveney Labour Party group waved placards at a socially distanced protest at The Uplands Children’s Centre in Ashburnham Way, Lowestoft on July 13.

Among the group members were East Suffolk councillor Janet Craig, and former county councillor Sonia Barker.

Expressing “deep concerns”, Mrs Barker said: “Today is important as we feel so strongly that this should not be going ahead.

“We are now finding out the after effects of Covid-19, and in these times families and children need more support not less.

“In 2015, when I was a county councillor, there were 47 Sure Start children’s centres across Suffolk.

“After this latest round of cuts, there will only be 17 full-time centres open.”

Across Suffolk, the opposition Labour group has campaigned against the changes, which are expected to save around £435,000 to the service as 12 new outreach workers are recruited.


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