CLOSURE OF CHILDREN’S CENTRES PUT ON HOLD
Council says it will go back to consultation on proposals
CONTROVERSIAL plans to replace Buckinghamshire’s 35 children’s centres have been put on hold, in a move which is being celebrated by campaigners.
In a shock U-turn, Bucks County Council announced on Wednesday last week it has delayed plans to replace the county’s children’s centres with nine “community team bases” under the Early Help scheme.
Instead, planned public meetings have been cancelled and a new consultation process has been launched, after the previous discussions were branded “shambolic” by campaigners.
It is not clear exactly why BCC has halted plans. However, cabinet mem- ber for children’s services, Warren Whyte, said the “strength of feeling” among families has been recognised, and the consultation needs to continue.
Original plans were given the green light in January, with the scheme expected to launch at the beginning of June.
Leader of the Save Our Children’s Centres campaign, Alka Dass, remains hopeful the council will throw out the plans completely.
She said: “I am extremely pleased that Bucks County Council has decided to put the process on hold and consult further with residents.
“One needs to ask why at this stage they have decided to do this and have a new consultation process, however whatever the reasons, we are glad that they will re-think this through.
“We want this done properly and we want our views listened to, we do not want to be ignored anymore and if truth be known, we want Bucks County Council to stop this process altogether, to keep our children’s centres open and to re-invest into our children’s centres and make improvements if required.”
The plans have been strongly opposed by families, schools and councillors, who have previously slammed BCC for a lack of communication regarding the early help scheme.
Cllr Whyte said new dates for public meetings will be announced in due course: “I hope residents and families will feel reassured that we are listening to their concerns and want to work with them to shape the support.”
We recognise the strength of feeling amongst families and the local community about the changes we are proposing and want to continue to have these discussions.
“Therefore, we will consult further with residents. No public meetings will take place for the time being, and we expect to publicise new dates for these as part of the new consultation process.”
Campaigners have been fighting to overturn plans to close 35 children’s centres across Bucks