Children’s centres in Uttlesford set to close under plans

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.... - Credit: Archant

Children’s centres in Stansted and Dunmow are to close if plans by Essex County Council go ahead.

Spangles Children’s Centre in Stansted and Little Goslings Children’s Centre in Dunmow would also close in their current form, and become family hubs. There will be a reduction of 37 registered children’s centres across the county to just 12.

However, it is proposed that there will be one family hub in each district open for 50 hours a week and others open for 20 to 30 hours including weekends.

The major overhaul proposes turning Sure Start Children’s Centres into Family Hubs from April 2017 and reducing their numbers. As part of this plan, some services in Essex would stop completely.

The council has put out a consultation on line to gauge people’s reactions. Kate Coghlan, spokesman for the charity Spurgeons which runs 15 of the children’s centres, said: “The plan is to close some centres and expand others. We are keeping an open mind until we know what families want. We are hoping people will respond to the consultation and make their views known. We have created posters advertising the consultation so that people know about the proposed changes. We want to encourage families to get involved.”

The new plan is to offer a service with five branches. These include healthy child programmes for ages birth to five, and from five to 19, children’s centres, a healthy schools programme and a family nurse partnership. Families who have a child with special needs would be able to get support through to the age of 25.

Councillor Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for adults and children, said, “We want to provide the right support and advice, in the right place and at the right time.”

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And Councillor Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for education and lifelong learning, added, “Children’s Centres are being included in a larger piece of work that we are doing to bring services together for all families and their children.

“These proposals are about providing more flexible support to families.”

The consultation runs until Sunday, April 10. To complete the consultation online visit http://surveys.essexinsight.org.uk/childrenscentresconsultation2016.