Suffolk Tories face challenge to plans to cut and close Children's Centres
Woodbridge Children's Centre to close as Tory cuts and closure plans are approved
The Woodbridge Caterpillar Children's Centre and Chatterbox in Ipswich will shut as part of the Suffolk County Council's cabinet plans to revamp the 38 children's centres. Suffolk County Council closed nine centres in 2015 and under the currently approved plans, two more centres would be close and nine would become nurseries, leaving 27 full or part-time "family hubs".
The council said the changes will offer more outreach services for hard-to-reach rural areas and cater for 0-19 year olds instead of just under fives. The Council said that the new model, called family hubs, will save around £435,000 in building costs which will be put towards staffing and helping recruit 12 outreach workers. The cuts and closures will see control of eight centres return to school or nurseries they are attached to, and will turn 11 into part-time hubs, with 17 staying open full-time, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The Tory controlled Council's decision to re-organise the service was due to be made in July but was delayed when errors were found in a council report. Opposition parties however have challenged the way the decision was taken last week and say that there is a lack of financial analysis or risk assessment in the report. If the challenge is upheld by the council's monitoring officers, it will likely be heard at a meeting of the council's scrutiny committee on September 11.
Labour and Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent groups have united to 'call-in' the decision made by Suffolk's Conservative administration last Monday.
Children's services spokeswoman for the Lib Dems, Greens and Independents, Penny Otton, said:
"We have serious concerns with the way the decision to close these centres was made, and our analysis has uncovered huge issues which need to be challenged. There is a lack of any sort of financial analysis or risk assessment in the report, so we really don't know how these cuts can be justified".
BBC NEWS 25 August 2020 Two Suffolk children's centres to close after cuts approved
PUBLISHED & UPDATED: 18:30 27 August 2020 Jason Noble Local democracy reporter