Suffolk

Suffolk County Council: Views sought on plans to children's centres

Caterpillar Centre Image copyright Google
Image caption The Caterpillar Centre in Woodbridge is one of two sites facing closure

Plans for a shake-up children's centre provision in Suffolk are going out for public consultation.

Last week Suffolk County Council revealed a plan to axe two of its 38 children's centres entirely and convert nine into part-time centres.

The plans aim to save the local authority up to £1m.

The council said it was hoped staff would be kept on or retrained. The cabinet agreed to put out the proposals to public consultation from September.

Children's centres offer valuable advice and services for parents and families such as breastfeeding tips, postnatal help and group sessions such as baby massage and play.

'Absolute disaster'

Conservative councillor Gordon Jones, cabinet member for education, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "There is no doubt that children's centre service in Suffolk delivers a service that people value greatly, but people deliver services not buildings.

"I want to make sure our dedicated staff who provide these services are able to spend more of their time working with families rather than buildings they work in."

Penny Otton, leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group, said: "The needs of parents and carers are now so wide and so diverse mentally and physically that I am very concerned how we will be able to guarantee an adequate service and provision for children of such a wide age gap."

Labour education spokesman Jack Abbott said: "Not a penny more will go into replacement outreach services, and the county will lose over half of its full-time children's centres. It is an absolute disaster."

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