MUMS who want to keep their Children’s Centre open in Westbury say Wiltshire Council has offered ‘empty words’ to parents about the loss of the community building.

Wiltshire Council has outlined savings of £250,000 by closing six centres across the county and continuing children’s services from community hubs, like libraries, nurseries and gyms. A consultation is now open into the proposal, open until March 20.

In 2016 the number of Children’s Centre buildings was reduced from 30 to 17. The new proposal will see it reduced to 11. Centres shutting will be Westbury White Horse, Trowbridge Longfield, Mere, Salisbury City Pewsey and Cricklade.

Users from Westbury’s White Horse Children’s centre have started a campaign group to oppose the closure. Mum Nadine Crook, lives in Warminster but started coming to the White Horse Centre when her local Children’s Centre closed.

She said: “When my first child was born we used the Warminster Centre a lot, it was a real life-line for us. But when my second child was born that had closed and the community groups we were promised in its place never materialised, so we started to travel to Westbury for support. My experience shows that the council’s offer to replace the centre with other services are just empty words and I’m deeply concerned for all new parents in the area that they won’t get the support they need.”

Westbury Mayor Ian Cunningham added: “Without these facilities I believe families with difficulties will not be picked up early and social services will have to pick up the much more expensive tab down the line.”

Trowbridge Cllr Deborah Halik said: “I don’t think closing the centres is right. All the ladies from Longfield will be having to walk their pushchairs along in the rain to Studley Green. They aren’t going to do that. I know of children’s centres where they would love to run more courses but the rent is too much and they cannot afford it.”

Lucy-Anne Bryant, lead commissioner said: “It’s a win-win. We want families to access libraries to improve literacy and reading. But we also want to improve fitness and consider healthy lifestyles so we want to encourage that by having services they already use in these spaces. It would be absolutely brilliant if families could go in and realise they can adopt a different lifestyle.”

A final decision will be made once the consultation closes in March 20.

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