Opposition anger at revived threat to Suffolk’s children’s centres.
- Credit: Rachel Edge
Proposals for a shake-up of children’s centres in Suffolk are about to be revived, opposition councillors are warning.
The county is due to start a new consultation on the future of the children's centres later this week - but Labour's spokesman on education and young people Jack Abbott warned that they would be coming under threat again.
He said the proposals represented a 'devastating attack on public services' with children and parents 'paying the price'.
The seven-week consultation is to start on Friday and will run until March 1. It was originally due to take place in September, but was postponed after the cuts provoked an outcry.
The changes, which were due to save a million pounds a year, would see two of the 38 centres closed altogether, 16 converted into full-time "family hubs." Nine would become part-time family hubs, and 11 would be converted into facilities for special educational needs or nurseries.
Mr Abbott said: "These brutal Conservative plans would see a third of Suffolk's children's centres close entirely, whilst many more would see their opening hours reduced.
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"This would represent one of the most devastating attacks on public services that we have seen in recent times, with closures taking place in every corner of Suffolk.
"We should be investing more in early years, not indiscriminately withdrawing the support that so many families desperately rely on.
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"School transport, health visitors and now children's centres have all suffered Tory cuts and it is children and their parents who keep paying the price. I will be doing everything I can to fight these closures."
Mr Abbott's concerns was backed up by the Liberal, Green and Independent group at the council.
Group leader Penny Otton said: "This consultation has been delayed for months, creating huge amounts of uncertainty for staff and families who are rightly concerned about the future of Suffolk's children's centres.
"Any closures of children's centres by the Conservative administration at Suffolk County Council would be a massive mistake and so harmful to our county - the service they provide to families in Suffolk is absolutely vital. The council needs to be investing more in early intervention and preventative services such as children's centres, not cutting them.
"I would urge as many people as possible to respond to this consultation and tell the council just how important our children's centres are."
A spokesman for the county council confirmed the consultation will launch on Friday but the number of centres to be affected would not be the same as those originally announced in the summer and details of the consultation were to be revealed soon and will be published by us over the next few days.
The consultation is due to go live here from 9am on Friday morning.