Children’s centre in battle to stay open
5:00am Thursday 31st July 2014 in By Craig Jones, Reporter
A PETITION has been launched to save a children’s centre that is under-threat as Swindon Council reviews the town’s services.
Under proposals being considered, Butterflies Child-ren’s Centre, based in Hugo Drive, would be turned into a family hub, no longer registered to Ofsted and face a significant reduction in funding.
The review of the services aims to save £770,000 with the council required to make £48m in budget cuts over the next three years. This could see seven of the town’s 12 children’s centres close and result in many job losses.
A consultation, running until October 3, has begun with the public’s views on the proposals being sought.
Butterflies’ petition is expected to launch this week and concerned users are being asked to sign it and help keep the centre operating in its existing form.
“We were shocked to be informed by Swindon Council that they propose to remove Butterflies Children’s Centre from service with effect from March 31, 2015,” said Tanya Parkinson, Butterflies’ manager, in a statement released by the centre’s staff.
“The new proposals would decommission our children’s centre to a family multi-generational centre.
“With much reduced funding, this would potentially result in much higher fees to attend.
“Would those who really need our support the most be able to afford to come?”
If the council’s plans are brought forward, West Swindon Family Project would also be turned into a family hub with both it and Butterflies expected to raise a significant amount of their own funds in the future.
The reform would see around half of Butterflies’ 14 staff lose their jobs and reduce the centre classes and home support they offer in the community.
The petition, which can be signed online or on paper, needs 750 signatures to allow representatives from Butterflies to speak at the council meeting, later in the year, where the reforms are being discussed.
Tanya said: “If you disagree with the proposal to remove your children’s centre from service please show your support in as many ways as you can.
“We have two months to campaign against the cuts.
“There will be three public consultation meetings, where members of Swindon Council will attend to hear your views.
“It has been a privilege working with so many families over the past four years.
“Please help Butterflies Children’s Centre stay open and support our fight against cuts to which, in our opinion, is an essential early years service.”
The Adver understands that other under-threat children’s centres in Swindon are considering launching their own petitions to keep their services going.
For more about the Butterflies’ petition, visit www.abbeymeads.swindon.sch.uk/butterflies and to take part in the council’s consultation, visit www.swindon.gov.uk.