Anger over East Sussex children's centre changes

Child in a nursery
Image caption Consultation is being held on the plans for five children's centres

A public meeting has been held by campaigners opposing changes to children's centres in East Sussex.

Consultation is under way on the plans for two centres in Eastbourne and three in Hastings and St Leonards.

East Sussex County Council said new rules would increase the numbers of two-year-olds eligible for free early years education from September and it needed the space to offer this.

Campaigner Sarah Owen said there would be a huge negative impact on families.

She said parent groups would be left in a state of flux with no guarantee that their groups will be able to continue.

Capacity 'vital'

Two of the centres, Red Lake and Churchwood, in Hastings and St Leonards, were in "some of the most deprived areas of town" and the continuation of parent/child bonding groups was vital, she added.

Parents opposing the plans were speaking at a meeting in St Leonards on Thursday.

Under the plans, the five affected buildings would cease to be children's centres, but services would be offered at other sites and may still be offered in the buildings themselves outside nursery times, the council said.

The other three centres affected are Polegate, Willingdon Trees and Silverdale.

Councillor Sylvia Tidy, cabinet member for children and families, said: "With more two-year-olds qualifying for free early learning, it's vital we have the capacity to ensure eligible children can take up this opportunity.

"Parents will still be able to access children's centre activities for their child."

She said she wanted as many people as possible to take part in the consultation which runs until 18 July.

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