11th hour bid to save chil­dren’s cen­tre snubbed

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - KAREN BRIT­TON

ACHILDREN’S cen­tre will close af­ter coun­cil­lors snubbed a last-ditch bid to save it.

Coun­cil­lors at Cheshire East’s full coun­cil meet­ing voted to ap­prove the bud­get which in­cludes plans to close Bro­ken Cross Chil­dren’s Cen­tre and three more of the bor­ough’s 11 chil­dren’s cen­tres in a bid to save £500,000.

It came af­ter Labour lost a pro­posal made at the meet­ing to amend the bud­get and use £500,000 of govern­ment fund­ing to re­verse the plan to close the cen­tres.

The money would have come from a £6m pot of ‘tran­si­tional fund­ing’ the govern­ment is giv­ing the coun­cil as part of a pack­age for coun­cils to ease the ef­fects of fund­ing cuts.

Coun Sam Cor­co­ran, who pro­posed the amend­ment, said chil­dren’s cen­tres pro­vide a place for young fam­i­lies to gather and sup­port each other.

Other coun­cil­lors made pas­sion­ate state­ments about how vi­tal the cen- tres are. Coun Alift Hare­wood, for Mac­cles­field West and Ivy, said: “I’m against mak­ing such a small sav­ing by clos­ing chil­dren’s cen­tres which ben­e­fit our most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.”

Coun Arthur Mo­ran, an in­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor for Nantwich North and West, made a plea to Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lors to vote for the amend­ment.

He said: “I ask you to put party pol­i­tics aside, vote with your con­science and put chil­dren and young fam­i­lies first.”

But all but two Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lors voted against the amend­ment, leav­ing a re­sult of 40 coun­cil­lors against, 30 in favour and eight choos­ing not to vote.

This means the bud­get goes ahead as planned and the chil­dren’s cen­tres will close, to be re­placed by a new mo­bile ser­vice 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 the mo­bile ser­vice.

A cam­paign is un­der­way in Mac­cles­field to keep the cen­tre open.

New coun­cil leader Rachel Bai­ley, who was elected at the meet­ing, in­sisted the pro­pos­als are not about clo­sures, but about ‘re-des­ig­nat­ing’ the ser­vice.

She said: “The ser­vice will be de­liv­ered in a dif­fer­ent way rather than let the cen­tre wither on the vine as foot­fall fur­ther re­duces.”

●● Ef­forts to save Bro­ken Cross Chil­dren’s cen­tre were in vain

●● Bunny brothers Chris­tian Grey (left) and Ja­son Tay­lor

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