‘No cuts vow was big lie’
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