‘No cuts vow was big lie’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Alexan­der Ballinger re­porter.name@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

HILLING­DON Coun­cil has been struck with more con­tro­versy around plans to close two chil­dren’s cen­tres af­ter it has been ac­cused of ly­ing about ser­vice cuts.

In De­cem­ber, the lo­cal au­thor­ity re­leased a state­ment say­ing there would be a coun­cil tax freeze in 2017/18 and that there were no planned fa­cil­ity clo­sures and no cuts to ser­vices.

That state­ment was re­leased on De­cem­ber 16, just four days af­ter Hilling­don Coun­cil an­nounced plans to close two chil­dren’s cen­tres – in Hayes and in North­wood.

Getwest­lon­don can now re­veal that the sec­ond chil­dren’s cen­tre land­lord has op­posed the clo­sure of the fa­cil­ity, de­spite the coun­cil blam­ing them for the planned clo­sures.

But Hillingon Coun­cil con­tin­ues to in­sist the land­lords re­fused to agree leases, swhich it claimed sparked the plans to close them.

Ma­rina Schem­bri, who uses the Cherry Lane Chil­dren’s Cen­tre in West Dray­ton said: “The coun­cil is plan­ning to en­force changes to the chil­dren’s cen­tres, re­gard­less of what us tax­pay­ers and users of the cen­tres think of it.”

Al­lud­ing to the coun­cil’s news­let­ter, she said there was an ar­ti­cle say­ing ‘ no taxes and no cuts to ser­vices’, which she said was a ‘big lie.’

In March 2016, the leader of Hilling­don Coun­cil, Cllr Ray Pud­di­foot, said that there were no ser­vice or fa­cil­ity cen­tres cuts planned in the com­ing year, de­spite Gov­ern­ment fund­ing be­ing cut by £73mil­lion.

The Con­ser­va­tive-run coun­cil also an­nounced in March a £215,000 “re­view of chil­dren cen­tre de­liv­ery model”.

The news of the planned clo­sures has caused an up­roar among par­ents who use the fa­cil­i­ties, which run a range of ser­vices in­clud­ing respite child­care, coun­selling and breast feed­ing cour­ses.

When changes to chil­dren’s cen­tres were an­nounced, Hilling­don Coun­cil said the clo­sures were caused by the land­lords of the cen­tres in North­wood and Hayes be­cause they would not agree new leases.

In De­cem­ber, getwest­lon­don re­ported that the land­lord of the Hill­side Chil­dren’s Cen­tre in North­wood, Hill­side Pri­mary School, ac­tu­ally op­posed the cen­tre’s clo­sure, de­spite the coun­cil blam­ing them.

Now, the land­lord of the sec­ond cen­tre in Hayes, Uxbridge Col­lege, has con­firmed that it too op­poses the planned clo­sure of its fa­cil­ity.

A state­ment from Uxbridge Col­lege said: “The prin­ci­pal and chair of gov­er­nors have sent a jointly signed let­ter to LBH [Lon­don Bor­ough of Hilling­don] ob­ject­ing to the clo­sure.”

Hill­side Chil­dren’s Cen­tre in North­wood Way and Uxbridge Col­lege Chil­dren’s Cen­tre would both be closed in April if plans go ahead.

An on­line pe­ti­tion has been launched on the cam­paign web­site change. org in the hopes of pre­vent­ing the clo­sures.

So far more than 300 peo­ple have signed it.

There 18 chil­dren’s cen­tres in the bor­ough are run by dif­fer­ent providers, but the new plans would the 16 re­main­ing sites un­der coun­cil con­trol.

A pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion was launched on De­cem­ber 14.

A spokesman for Hilling­don Coun­cil said: “Prior to the con­sul­ta­tion, the land­lords for the sites at Uxbridge Col­lege and Hill­side Pri­mary School de­clined to agree leases, so the coun­cil is also look­ing at al­ter­na­tive ways in which res­i­dents can con­tinue to be sup­ported in those ar­eas.”

The coun­cil’s con­sul­ta­tion is open un­til mid­night tonight (Wed­nes­day).

THREAT: The chil­dren’s cen­tre at Hill­side Pri­mary in North­wood may shut

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