Surrey

Surrey County Council plans to close dozens of children centres

Plans to close 31 children's centres in Surrey are being considered as part of a county council proposal to make cuts of more than £200m by 2021.

Surrey County Council (SCC) said demand was growing for children's and adult care services.

Of the current 58 children's centres, 19 main centres would remain open, with eight becoming "satellite" centres.

Two further main centres would open - to work with children up to the age of 11, the council said.

David Hodge, leader of the Conservative council, said: "We want to create a network of hubs around the county which support children right up until they're 11, rather than five as now, and targeting areas with most need.

"Our aim is to focus our resources on families who need our support most so they get help early on and we can try and prevent them needing social care services in the future."

Plans 'not popular'

The council is launching a public consultation on its plans, which include removing council funding for free bus travel for disabled people before 09:30 and after 23:00 on weekdays, and no longer providing a free pass for a companion.

The public is also being asked to comment on the possible closure of up to six recycling centres across the county,

Last month the council was warned it would not have sufficient reserves to meet its funding gap in 2019-20 unless it acted immediately.

In 2017 the council was accused of agreeing an alleged "sweetheart" funding deal with government when it planned a 15% council tax hike.

Mr Hodge said: "We know that some of the things we are proposing will not be popular but we have to look to change how we do things."

The public consultation opens on Tuesday and closes on 4 January.

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