Could Lowestoft and Southwold children’s centres be shit after review?
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Nine children's centres in Suffolk - including one in Lowestoft and one in Southwold - look set to close despite mass opposition during public consultation, it can be revealed.
Suffolk County Council is proposing to press on with the moves, which will save the authority £250,000.
The centres affected are in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Reydon, Felixstowe, Glemsford, Thurston, Haverhill and Lowestoft.
However, some changes have been made to the original proposal, meaning there will be a shorter distance for some families to travel to replacement services.
This week Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee said he was confident the controversial decision would not compromise the quality of services provided.
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The children's centres offer a range of drop-in services to families and children, providing vital support, information, advice and activities.
Mr Bee said: 'We have proved it with what we have done with the library service that if you can work in tune with a community and decide where things need to be rather than perhaps where they were placed for historic reasons, you create services which are actually much stronger and are going to be better used.
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'We have every confidence that this review of the children's centres can provide exactly the same as that.
'People don't like change and don't want to see something they see as being established changing, but it is down to us now to show that what is going to takeover is going to be better.'
More than 1,000 people were surveyed during a 12-week consultation on the proposals, which ended in October last year.
Opposition figures in Labour vociferously campaigned against the closures, arguing they will damage the lives of vulnerable children. Labour's Bryony Rudkin called for the review to be abandoned and for all children centre's to remain open.
But Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children's services at the county council, said: 'A number of the buildings we currently use as children's centres are simply no longer fit for purpose, require significant financial investment or are not located in the best place for the community.
'At Reydon and Southwold, there is a brand new health centre. We will make use of that. It is 400 yards or so from the existing building, which is a tired one. It makes an awful lot of sense.'
The proposals are expected to be approved at a full cabinet meeting on Tuesday next week. The changes will save around £250,000 in total between 2015 and 2018. The closures will take place from April onwards.
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