Children's Centres under review

10:50am Friday 24th January 2014

CHILDREN’S centres could be at risk in a council review.

Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) is looking at de-registering less popular centres so they can be earmarked for community use.

This could include them being given back to schools which need extra accommodation.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of CWAC’s children and education scrutiny committee.

Clr Mark Stocks, executive member for children and young people, said: “As members will be aware the council has to save around £50 million over the next three years.

“The one thing that is evident is that we can’t just continue to just trim bits and pieces from budgets here and there.

“We propose to de-register a number of our children’s centres, enabling them to be used for the community through additional classrooms, children and community facilities etc.

“This will enable us to focus on delivering high quality, appropriately staffed and core early years service.”

Deprivation, reach and operational costs of the buildings could be considered when determining if a children’s centre should be de-registered.

De-registration would only take place after a public consultation in the area.

Clr Nicole Meardon, committee chairman, said she was concerned about the impact of de-registration.

“I know a lot of our children’s centres are attached to schools and obviously if they were de-registered and the school then took on that classroom space, that children’s centre would essentially not exist,” she said.

“There may very well be one down the road if you’ve got a car but if you haven’t got a car and you’re in some of our more needy areas, then you’re not going to be able to access that desperately needed support.”

Consultation will begin if the proposals are agreed by the executive and ratified by council on March 3.

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