Glemsford: Concern over potential loss of ‘vital’ village children’s centre

Nursery rated as Outstanding by Ofsted inspectors

Nursery rated as Outstanding by Ofsted inspectors - Credit: PA

Parents and carers have voiced their concerns about the possible closure of a children’s facility in a west Suffolk village.

Woodlands Children’s Centre in Glemsford, near Sudbury, which opened just four years ago, is one of nine across Suffolk threatened with closure. The current proposal is to move services from the Shepherds Lane building and merge them with the Phoenix Children’s Centre in Tudor Road, Sudbury.

The county council’s children’s centres offer a wide range of services for families and carers of children up to the age of five.

Working with local schools and other service providers, they offer information on things such as childcare, parenting programmes and healthcare.

According to a consultation document published on Suffolk County Council’s website, the number of people using the Woodlands centre is around 20 per day with the majority of families already accessing services at other venues.

The report proposes to develop these services further, including a possible partnership with the local library.

The Woodlands building would then be used mainly for early education.

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But a concerned grandparent, who cares for her five-year-old grandson, said the centre had been “an absolute godsend”.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said: “Since my grandson came to live with me it has been a struggle, and the centre has been a vital source of help. It has computer access, the clubs and groups it runs are great and there is always someone to offer assistance.

“The village is quite isolated and doesn’t have a regular bus service. There are a lot of single mums and younger families in Glemsford and many don’t have transport.”

According to the county council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Gordon Jones, the cost of running some of the centres is disproportionately high compared to the number of people using them.

He said: “We want the precious resources we direct towards early years care to be focused as much as possible on the services that will make a difference, and not on buildings.”