Dis­pute over rea­son for cen­tre’s clo­sure

School says state­ment over lease prob­lems is ‘not en­tirely the case’

Uxbridge Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Alexan­der Ballinger alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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

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