Cam­paign launched to save chil­dren’s cen­tre

Macclesfield Express - - BEFORE THE BENCH - STU­ART GREER

ACAM­PAIGN has been launched against plans to axe a ‘vi­tal’ chil­dren’s cen­tre in one of the town’s most dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas.

Cheshire East Coun­cil wants to shut four of its 11 chil­dren’s cen­tres – in­clud­ing one in Bro­ken Cross – to save cash.

In­stead, par­ents in need of ad­vice and sup­port in the We­ston, Up­ton Pri­ory and Bro­ken Cross will have to at­tend ei­ther Hurds­field or Ash Grove chil­dren cen­tres, or use a new mo­bile ser­vice.

The coun­cil is con­sult­ing on the pro­pos­als un­til Fe­bru­ary 12. Par­ents have launched a cam­paign to pre­vent the clo­sure and are lob­by­ing lo­cal coun­cil­lors and MP David Rut­ley.

A pe­ti­tion launched ear­lier this month has at­tracted al­most 650 sup­port­ers, while a Face­book group ‘Save Bro­ken Cross chil­dren’s cen­tre’ has al­most 1,400 mem­bers.

Mum-of-one Joanna Hills­don, 29, of Bo­s­tock Road, We­ston, is lead­ing the cam­paign.

She said: “The cen­tre has been an ab­so­lutely vi­tal sup­port for hun­dreds of par­ents in one of the most dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas of Mac­cles­field.

“Kids don’t come with a hand­book, so the ad­vice and sup­port on of­fer to par­ents there is in­valu­able. Ex­pect­ing par­ents to travel two miles to Ash Grove or al­most three miles to Hurds­field is crazy. Clo­sure of the cen­tre in Bro­ken Cross will com­pletely iso­late par­ents in this area. This will have a detri­men­tal ef­fect on the chil­dren.”

Nick Man­nion, Labour coun­cil­lor for Mac­cles­field West and Ivy ward, said: “This is a vi­tal re­source which - in light of the on­go­ing cuts - is needed now more than ever.” The three other chil­dren’s cen­tres fac­ing the axe are in Knutsford, Nantwich Ru­ral and Sand- bach. The coun­cil says front­line staff will be re­de­ployed to other cen­tres.

Coun­cil­lor Rachel Bai­ley, Cab­i­net mem­ber for chil­dren and fam­i­lies said: “Like many au­thor­i­ties, we are forced to make some tough spend­ing de­ci­sions.

“There is a con­sul­ta­tion process in place and we will take on board the feed­back that we re­ceive.

“I would em­pha­sise there is scope for flex­i­bil­ity and the coun­cil is work­ing with lo­cal health providers and schools to de­velop a plan to de­liver chil­dren’s cen­tre ser­vices to the most vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies, to­gether with other al­ter­na­tives in­clud­ing a mo­bile ser­vice es­pe­cially in re­mote, ru­ral ar­eas.”

To have your say, visit the coun­cil web­site and search ‘con­sul­ta­tions’, email RandC@ cheshireeast.gov.uk, or write to Re­search and Con­sul­ta­tion, Cheshire East Coun­cil, West­fields, Sand­bach, CW11 1HZ.

ANDY LAMBERT

Joanna Hills­don with son Lawrence, two; Below, pro­test­ers gather out­side Bro­ken Cross Chil­dren’s Cen­tre

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