THE future of childrens centres in Warwickshire is to be debated at an extraordinary meeting at county hall on Wednesday, November 29.
It follows a motion signed by the leaders of both the Liberal Democrat and Labour groups, and comes after the county’s Conservative controlled cabinet voted to close at least nine childrens centres, including the one in Studley, in a cost cutting measure.
The motion before county hall calls for the savings required – £1.12million – to be found from cash reserves with some councillors discussing the possibility of an amendment whereby the money could be raised from council tax.
The cutbacks have created a storm of protest, with even the Conservative leader of Stratford District Council, Councillor Chris Saint, voicing his opposition, but county Tories voted to go ahead with the plans earlier this month.
The outcome is that from October 2019 all of Stratford district will be covered by just three childrens centres.
Under the plans 14 of the 39 childrens centres would become ‘children and family centres’.
These would cater for young people up to the age of 19 with a provision for the disabled up to the age of 25. Currently the centres only deal with children from 0-5 years old.
The intention is that Alcester would have such a centre.
A furrther 16 childrens centres would be designated as Outreach centres – provided their management could be transferred to a third party to run them.
If this isn’t possible they could be closed down.
The rest of the centres, including the one in Studley, would close.
Councillor Clive Rickhards (Lib Dem, Studley) said: “I do not think the closure of the Studley centre is far from justified. For children to achieve readiness for school they need inter-action with each other and this motion is an attempt to turn around some of the thinking at the county council.”