Family centres ‘will open on time’
AMBITIOUS plans to open more than 50 children’s centres across the county have been hit by contractual wrangles.
But education chiefs insist they remain on course to build the 52 centres, which provide a range of services for families with young children under five by the end of the year.
The assurance came after it emerged that Kent County Council had been forced to ditch two outside contractors who had been involved in the £17 million scheme.
They also say the decision to re-tender a key building contract could eventually save money.
Work on the second wave of children’s centres began in 2007, with contractors moving on to some sites to begin building work.
The centres, some attached to schools, with others attached to community centres, are being funded to the tune of £10 million by the Government through its Sure Start programme, with KCC contributing £7 million to make up the overall costs.
But county councillors have now been told consultants employed to oversee the scheme were ditched last year after concerns about their work.
The scheme suffered a further setback when KCC became unhappy with the performance of building contractors and a decision was taken to re-tender that contract, too.
Education chiefs say concerns surfaced about whether the builders were complying with KCC’s brief and also high- lighted failure to respond when problems were brought to their attention.
In a statement, cabinet member Cllr Mark Dance (Con) KCC, said: “We are committed to delivering the additional 52 centres and have invested £7 million to make up a shortfall in government funding.”