Closure of children’s centres confirmed with no further debate

Protestors fought a long campaign to try to save children's centres.

Protestors fought a long campaign to try to save children's centres. - Credit: Archant

Nine Suffolk children’s centres are to close their doors after the county council’s cabinet confirmed the decision in less than five minutes and without a debate.

Yesterday’s cabinet meeting was the last act in a long drama – the closures have been the subject of a long campaign since the first proposal was revealed last summer.

The children’s centres provide help and advice for parents and carers, play opportunities for children, family activities, children’s health services and a range of other services.

The county says all the services provided will be moved to other centres or will be delivered from other buildings nearby once the closures have taken place during the spring.

The nine centres set to close are:

Brett River, Hadleigh;

Jigsaw, Thurston;

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Meredith, Ipswich;

On Track, Haverhill;

Quayside, Ipswich;

Reydon and Southwold;

Roman Hill, Lowestoft;

Sea Breeze, Felixstowe;

Woodlands, Glemsford.

The decision left opposition councillors fuming because the authority’s scrutiny committee had it referred the closures back to the cabinet.

The original decision to close the nine children’s centres and move their services to other buildings was taken by the county’s cabinet on January 27.

The Labour opposition demanded the decision should be re-examined by the council’s scrutiny committee, which happened on February 11. That took the decision that there was not sufficient information for the cabinet to have taken the decision and it should be reconsidered.

Yesterday the cabinet took less than five minutes to confirm its original decision, without a debate, meaning that the nine children’s centres will close.

Opposition spokeswoman for children’s services Bryony Rudkin felt it brought the whole scrutiny process into question.

She said: “The council has not listened to anyone on this. It published proposals at the launch of a consultation – and then stuck to its original proposals.

“These went to cabinet and were passed – but then the scrutiny committee decided it had not had enough information. But when it went back to cabinet it was all agreed in less than five minutes without a debate. What is the point of scrutiny?”

The meeting heard that cabinet members had had plenty of opportunity to study all the issues.

Gordon Jones, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “I fully respect the role of Scrutiny in the decision making process and I remain fully committed to ensuring that children centre services are delivered in suitable locations and in a way that ensures the best possible start in life for children across Suffolk.”