Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham council to close 10 children's centres

Demonstrators in Rotherham in February
Unison held a protest in Rotherham earlier ahead of a meeting by the town council

Ten out of 22 children's centres in Rotherham are set to close.

The decision by Rotherham Council's cabinet came following a meeting earlier. The authority initially proposed to close 13 centres.

A 6,000-signature petition opposing the cuts was handed in to the council by union Unison earlier amid a protest.

Robin Symonds, from Unison, said despite the opposition, 9,000 signatures were needed to force a full council debate.

In total, 12 centres will remain open including Wath Victoria, Park View and Dinnington.

'Cut people adrift'

Mr Symonds said: "The town needs all of its children's centres open.

"The centres exist where there is a need, where there is social and economic deprivation, where there are vulnerable families and they provide vital services to those families.

"Without those services it's going to cut people adrift and it's going to make some of the most vulnerable in our society even more vulnerable."

The £5m Early Years and Child Care Service is to be cut by £2.2m during 2014-16, according to council figures.

'Different way'

The Labour-led council said the centres helped an average of 9,000 children under five and their families each year.

Council leader Roger Stone said: "Even though we may have to close the centres, the aim is to try and ensure that [children's] services are provided in the areas where they've closed.

"But they will have to be done in a different way and that's why we're talking to different groups and people."

Allen Cowles, a councillor for UKIP, which has 10 seats on the council to Labour's 15, said: "Anything to do with closing children's services is very disappointing. They are our future and we need to be supporting them in every way.

"We'll be looking into this and raising it at the next meeting."

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