Outcry as children’s centres are set to close

Coun Olivia Rowley
Coun Olivia Rowley

Children’s centres could be facing closure in a service shake-up by Wakefield Council.

Fears have been raised that families could lose lifeline services after plans emerged to reduce the number of centres to cut costs.

The future of centres in the South East is uncertain and staff could be facing redundancy.

Under plans to be discussed by Wakefield Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, 23 children’s centres could be centralised to six main centres and three ‘linked’ sites, which would offer additional support in areas of high deprivation.

The plans would only leave Cedars in Hemsworth as one of the six main sites.

The remaining centres - Sunflowers in South Elmsall, Upton Children’s Centre, Little Owls in South Kirkby - would be transferred to nearby schools, but it is not clear whether their services would continue.

Under changes to the way services for young people and families are delivered, the council could set up seven new “Early Help Hubs” around the district.

The children’s centres, along with other support and advice services, would be run from the new hubs.

A report to Tuesday’s meeting said some staff could be made redundant and others re-deployed. It also said resources needed to be targeted towards people who most need them.

Wakefield Council is facing £185m in budget cuts over the next five years. The report said “fewer available resources and the need to make budget savings” had contributed to the planned service re-shuffle.

Coun Olivia Rowley, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We need to be more innovative and creative in the way we deliver services for children and their families across the district.

“This will include looking at the role of children’s centres in our Early Help Offer. We spend a significant amount of our budget on the management and administration of these buildings, in addition to overhead costs.”