Half of the town's children's centres could close to save council £700,000

This Is Wiltshire: Half of the town's children's centres could close to save council £700,000 Half of the town's children's centres could close to save council £700,000

THE council is proposing to close more than half of Swindon’s Children Centres in a bid to save almost £800,000.

A consultation is due to start later this month with parents and staff over plans which would see a reduction in overall service in many areas of the town as well as some possible job losses.

It is believed almost £17 million of savings need to be found in next year’s budget which is why the plan is being put forward.

The centres at Penhill and Pinehurst, Moredon, Drove, Gorse Hill, which became a super cluster run by one company earlier this year, will remain untouched as will the Parks and Walcot East centre at Goddard Park Academy. This is because they serve the highest proportion of vulnerable children.

However, all the others face being decommissioned, although some will be replaced by a new form of service.

At Abbey Meads and West Swindon it is proposed that new multi-generational family centres are established at 66 per cent of their current funding.

These would be operated by co-ordinators who would work with the community to run groups for children, parents and the elderly.

They would be able to charge groups or raise funds and it is anticipated that after two years these two centres would be self-sufficient so council funding could be withdrawn.

A part of the consultation would also look at possible community uses for the building currently being used by Robert Le King and Highworth children’s centres.

Although the overall service would be reduced, there are set to be an extra 17 health visitors in the area by next year and extra funding is available for vulnerable three and four-year-olds to make sure they are ready for school.

It is expected the changes will have come into effect by April next year and will save the council £770,000, from an overall budget of £2.1 million.

The consultation will start on July 29 and run until the beginning of October.

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