Council set to axe more than 30 children's centres

Jess Brown
Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A council has proposed to close nearly two thirds of its children's centres as part of efforts to save money.

Nearly two thirds of Derbyshire's children's centres are at risk of closure. Picture: Lucie Carlier
Nearly two thirds of Derbyshire's children's centres are at risk of closure. Picture: Lucie Carlier

Plans set out by Derbyshire County Council will result in the closure of 32 of the local authority's 51 children's centres, leaving 19 open in some of the county’s most deprived areas. A total of 116 full-time jobs are at risk.

The move will result in savings of £4.3m to the council's current children's centres budget of £6.8m. The council has said it needs to save £70m across all services over the next two years.

Some services on offer in the children's centres that are set to close will be transferred to other centres. The council said it will attempt to find alternative uses for some of the closing buildings including expanding the council's free childcare offer for three- and four-year-olds.

If the council's cabinet agrees to the proposals at a meeting due to be held next Tuesday (26 January), a consultation on the closures will begin next month.

Caitlin Bisknell, Derbyshire Council’s deputy lead member for children’s services, said vulnerable families will be prioritised.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we have to consider closing children’s centres," she said.

“However, the huge cuts to our budget mean we have no choice but to consider reviewing the way we offer these types of services to families across Derbyshire in the most effective way.

“These services would still be available but instead of being based at a building they would be available within the community to make sure we continue to prioritise families that need help the most.

“We will make every effort to ensure that those families most in need receive services and will work with the voluntary sector to provide other services.”

Earlier this month the Department for Education confirmed that a consultation into children’s centres, due to launch last autumn, has been delayed.

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