Plans for children’s centres reviewed
Political Editor PLANS for five children’s centres across the county are to be scrapped and a further five are to be incorporated into existing facilities after a cost-cutting review by education chiefs.
County councillors on Monday agreed to the plans to scale back the latest phase of its programme in a move that could save it £3.8 million.
The centres evolved from the Government’s Sure Start initiative and the original aim was to have centres in every community to offer welfare advice and help for more than 83,000 children and their parents.
KCC said it wanted to review the latest phase of the project to see if it could cut back on the number of centres that would be built from scratch.
Now KCC’s ruling Conservative cabinet has backed a report recommending that five be axed from the latest round and plans to build a further five be scratched.
The five to be scrapped are at Biddenden, near Ashford; Bearsted, Maidstone; Kemsing Primary School, Sevenoaks; the Discovery Primary School, Malling and Raynehurst Primary School, Gravesend.
New centres will not now be built at Wye, Ashford; Coxheath Primary School, Maidstone; East Peckham Primary School, Tonbridge and Pembury Primary School, Tunbridge Wells.
Instead, they will be placed in existing buildings already offering some kind of community service.
The plans for the remaining 20 in the scheme remain as they were when the review started.
KCC says the decision to scale back the programme will save about £3.8 million from the overall costs of all its centres, which is estimated at £30 million.
Rosalind Turner, KCC’s managing director of children’s services, said the plans would not affect the number of people who were able to access the centres.
“This is continuing the reach of children’s centres but doing so more with existing facilities.”
Funding has come from the government and KCC, which has agreed to spend £7 million to meet a shortfall.