No way back for children’s centres as funding cuts agreed
COUNCIL bosses have given the green light to slash funding for the 14 children’s centres in Swindon and to focus mainly on needy children.
Conservative and Labour councillors remained at loggerheads over the issue of whether funding for the centres should be cut by about £380,000 by 2014.
But the cabinet approved proposals to steer funding for the town’s children centres, which cares for children aged up to five-years-old, towards the most vulnerable families.
The council’s £2m budget for the centres will now have 80 per cent bias towards those in most need while four will no longer be maintained as children’s centres, although they will still cater for youngsters aged two to four.
Before announcing its final plans, at a meeting on Wednesday, the authority launched a six-week consultation between July and August.
Labour’s shadow lead for children’s services, councillor Cindy Matthews, pictured, said it could alienate hundreds of families living in the borough.
Under the proposals for the four centres that will no longer be maintained, Greenmeadow Children’s Centre will be leased to Little Pipins Pre-school, which will provide early years education for two to four-year-olds.
Saplings Centre, based at Grange Primary School, is set to be leased to Grange Primary School to provide early years education for two to four-year-olds and Eldene Children’s Centre will be used for two year olds’ education as well as by health visitors, midwives and speech and language therapists.
Meanwhile, Croft Child-ren’s Centre is to be used by the council’s children and families services or early years education.
“It’s an outstanding report,” said councillor Fionuala Foley, cabinet member for children’s services.
“There are still going to be facilities at the buildings, which will no longer be maintained as children centres.”
Coun Cindy Matthews, who represents Lydiard and Freshbrook said: “A pre-school is not a children centre.
“All parents are vulnerable and they may need help for just a little part. These plans will isolate so many children and families.”
Coun Foley insisted any family which required support would receive it.
“Lots of people who replied said they would be interested in volunteering,” said Coun Foley, who added more money to help train people to become volunteers could become available.
It will be up to each centre how they spend their budget which includes how many staff they employ.
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