ANGER AS TWO CHILDREN’S CENTRES ARE TO CLOSE DOWN BY THE END OF THE MONTH
CHILDREN’S centres planned for closure in Hillingdon will be shut down at the end of March, it has been announced.
Hillingdon Council revealed the centres in Hayes and Northwood will be closing their doors for good on March 31 because of a failure to reach a lease agreement with the landlords.
The council’s cabinet will be meeting on Thursday March 16 to make a final decision on restructuring children’s services in the borough.
Changes include bringing all of the centres under council management and operating a ‘spoke and hub’ model with five lead centres coordinating services.
The changes have been opposed by many parents and politicians.
Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington John McDonnell said: “Just at a time when we were led to believe that Hillingdon’s Conservative council was having a rethink of its plans to cut the budget for our children’s centres, they have forced it through at the recent council meeting.”
The Shadow Chancellor added: “This has been in the teeth of opposition from local parents and teachers.
“These Conservative councillors have sold out the future of our local children.
“These cuts will inevitably impact on the opportunity they have for early years education and the support for both children and their families that these centres provide.
“These are lifelines for parents. It is a disgraceful act by this Tory council.”
The Uxbridge College Children’s Centre, in Coldharbour Lane, Hayes, and the Hillside Children’s Centre, in Northwood Way, Northwood, will be shut down at the end of the month.
Parents and campaigners have passionately opposed the closures and changes, holding a protest outside the council offices in Uxbridge last month.
A group of protesters were ejected from the Hillingdon Council meeting held last month after they heckled from the public gallery and one stormed into the council chamber.
The landlord of the Hillside centre, Hillside Primary School, previously claimed the centre was closing not because of issues over the lease, but because of budget cuts.
In a letter sent to parents, the school said that other schools in the borough had not signed leases but would remain open.
A statement from the landlord of the Hayes centre, Uxbridge College, said: “As stated in the letter to the council from Uxbridge College’s board of governors, we object to the closure of the children’s centre and are sorry to hear this decision is likely to be finalised at the meeting of the cabinet on March 16.”
Councillor David Simmonds, Hillingdon Council’s cabinet member for education and children’s services, said: “We really value feedback from our children’s centres programme from the local community.
“It’s wonderful to hear that these services are so highly valued by families, and we will endeavour to meet the need of parents and children across the borough.
“Residents have told us that they want consistent, flexible and coordinated family support, which meets the needs especially of the most vulnerable children and their families, but the current manner in which staff are deployed and organised doesn’t allow for this in all areas.
“We now need to work with programme staff to reorganise the way we deploy staff and resources so that we can best meet and prioritise need.”
Protesters had been campaigning about the proposed cuts