Wiltshire

Wiltshire's children's centre cuts 'a win-win'

Babies generic Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Since 2016 the number of children's centres in Wiltshire have been from 30 to 17

Plans to close six children's centre buildings and run services out of local libraries and gyms are a "win-win", a council officer has said.

Wiltshire Council wants to save £250,00 by closing six of its 17 buildings.

Leader commissioner Lucy-Ann Bryant said the plan would help tackle issues such as literacy, reading as well as fitness and health, improving outcomes.

But councillors at the Conservative-led authority have expressed concerns about its impact.

The proposed children's centre closures will be at Cricklade, Pewsey, Trowbridge Longfield, Mere, Salisbury City and Westbury White Horse, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The authority says it will invest in staffing instead of buildings to to help families with children under the age of five.

'Improve fitness'

During a children's select committee meeting on Tuesday, chairman Jon Hubbard said: "The proposal is not to reduce services. The proposal is to change the locality within the community.

"My concern is not the next six weeks, it is down the line in the next six to 12 months."

Ms Bryant said: "It's a win-win. We want families to access libraries to improve literacy and reading.

"But we also want to improve fitness and consider healthy lifestyles so we want to encourage that by having services they already use in these spaces."

Conservative councillor Deborah Halik said: "I don't think closing the centres is right.

"I know of children's centres where they would love to run more courses but the rent is too much and they cannot afford it."

In 2016 the council cut the number of its children's centre buildings from 30 to 17.

A final decision will be made once a consultation closes on 20 March.

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