Dispute over reason for centre’s closure
School says statement over lease problems is ‘not entirely the case’
A LEAKED letter from a primary school has claimed Hillingdon Council is planning to close a children’s centre to save money, not because of problems with the lease as it first said.
The council announced earlier this month that it was planning to close two centres in Hayes and Northwood because the landlords had “declined to agree leases”.
One of the centres under threat of closure is at Hillside Primary School in Northwood Way, which would close from April 2017.
A letter to parents, signed by the two headteachers and the children’s centre manager at Hillside, said that the council’s given reason for the closure is ‘not entirely the case’
The letter, seen by the Gazette, referencing the changes to the running of the children centres across Hillingdon, said: “As part of this restructure it has been proposed that Hillside Children’s Centre will close. It has been cited by the local authority that this is due to the school not signing the lease.
“We would like to make it very clear to families that this is not entirely the case. There are also a number of other schools in the authority with children’s centres who have also not signed their leases but will remain open. It has been documented that the council need to save approximately £400,000 within this area and we firmly believe that not signing the lease is being used as an excuse to save money.”
Hillingdon Council announced on December 12 that it would be consulting the public on a restructuring of the centres in the borough, which would include closing the centres in Northwood and at Uxbridge College in Coldharbour Lane, Hayes.
The council said under the new plans the centres would be closed because the landlords would not agree to new leases, but this has been disputed by the Hillside school.
A statement from Hillingdon Council has reiterated its previous position, saying that it had made no progress in signing leases.
The statement said: “The proposals are currently under consultation. We have 18 children’s centres and unfortunately two have made no progress in signing their lease. Residents in these areas will continue to have access to the wider programme and the consultation process will also be used to determine how the needs of parents in these areas will continue to be served going forward.”
The public consultation on the changes was launched on Wednesday, December 14 and residents have until January 25 to put their views forward.
It will include ways to offer continued services for families in the areas affected by the closures, including access to nearby centres.
The MP for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell, has said he was “extremely saddened” about the planned closures.
Children’s centres provide a range of services, including child health clinics, parenting classes, adult learning classes, specialised family support, breastfeeding advice and stay and play sessions.
Each centre serves around 800 to 1,000 children under the age of five. Currently, the 18 centres are run by a number of different organisations, but under the new plans they would all come under the control of Hillingdon Council.
The letter from the school added: “The children’s centre at Hillside is an excellent and valuable community resource. The centre runs approximately 20 different sessions each week which includes P3 advice sessions, midwifery services and adult education.
“The centre also supports parents to be, new mothers, and those preparing children and families for school.
“Both the infant and junior schools feel passionately about saving our centre and we would welcome your support.”
The letter includes a link to the council’s public consultation, which you can access at www.hillingdon. gov.uk/haveyoursay.
UNDER THREAT: The children’s centre at Hillside Primary School