CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to axe children’s centres in Warwickshire are at odds over revised proposals.
Earlier this year Warwickshire County Council’s controversial proposals to close a number of the county’s 39 children’s centres met with widespread anger.
Faced with a £67million cut in government funding, council chiefs aimed to save £1.1million by creating 12 all-purpose hubs, providing services to children and young people aged up to 19.
Recommendations to maintain an additional two centres were put forward after Stratford district residents raised concerns Alcester would be the only centre left in the district. As a result centres in Stratford and Lighthorne are now set to remain open. Centres at Badger Valley in Shipston and Southam are expected to be spared for at least a year to trial outreach services.
In Warwick district, St John’s in Kenilworth, which was originally set to be axed, is also now set to trial outreach services for at least 12 months.
In Leamington, the centre at Kingsway is now expected to stay open instead of the one in Syndenham. Centres at Lillington and Westgate in Warwick will also remain open.
Other recommendations included replacing the term ‘family hub’ with ‘children and family centres’ and to maintain a focus on ‘stay and play’ schemes aimed at families of children with special needs.
Campaign group Save Warwickshire Children’s Centres, which has been lobbying the council to keep the centres open – or to use council reserves to keep them running while a long-term plan was put in place – welcomed teh revisions.
A spokesperson for the group said: “We feel that the consultation has been listened to as there are more centres staying open, more transition time has been factored in and the hubs now have a better geographical spread.
“We recognise this isn’t the outcome that will please everyone affected, however this is a much better proposal than originally tabled.
“The increased transition period will also help ease some of the turbulence that the changes to health visiting may bring with that re-organisation next year.”
But fellow campaign group Save our Children’s Centres was far from happy with the revised proposals
Group spokeswoman Vicki Behm said: “The proposed changes to the original proposals for Children’s Centres are not a
“They amount to little more than a tinkering at the edges with some misleading packaging – a few more centres, a delay to a third’s closure and a re-labelling of ‘Hubs’ as ‘Children and Family Centres’, on the grounds that the term ‘hubs’ is confusing, which is in fact, an attempt to confuse the issue further.”
Council chiefs are set to vote on the new proposals on Thursday (November 9).