Family support charity co-ordinator tells of concern over proposed cuts to children's centres in South Cambs
PUBLISHED: 11:59 31 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:59 31 August 2017
Proposals to cut the number of children's centres in Melbourn and Bassingbourn as part of a county-wide redesign to save £1 million have been slammed by the area's family support charity and county councillor.
Cambridgeshire County Council’s plans – which are under consultation – would see the 10 children’s centres in the district reduced to one ‘child and family centre’ in Cambourne.
Melbourn’s centre would be closed and ‘a child and family zone’ in a shared building put in it’s place, with Bassingbourn’s children’s centre redesignated.
Home-Start Royston & South Cambridgeshire senior co-ordinator Sarah Mascall spoke to the Crow about her concerns.
“Our families often fall between the gaps of local service provision,” she said.
“By closing or relocating very local children’s centres, we could see a higher number of families unable to access children’s centres.
“This may mean that there is an increase in the number of vulnerable families, which in turn could mean that referrals for hard to reach families increase for Home-Start.
“Transport and access to services is a key issue for our families and we know that this is likely to act as a barrier.
“What could also potentially be lost is the ability for clients to develop relationships with staff, therefore creating additional problems.
“It is vital that early help services remain available and easily accessible so that families can access support when they need it.”
There is a drop-in session to chat about the proposals at Bassingbourn Children’s Centre on September 14.
The county councillor for Melbourn and Bassingbourn, Susan van de Ven, said: “These children’s centre proposals are a tragic illustration of the consequences of a political move to make even deeper cuts than necessary.
“It’s the county council that is saving money, and young families and children who need support will lose out.
“What is most striking is how many children’s centres are affected and how little information there is about the new proposed service.
“If buildings are closing and the whole concept of the service is changing, then what help will be on offer?
“If Bassingbourn residents are to be asked to go travel elsewhere, public transport links to other South Cambridgeshire villages simply don’t exist.
“The big effort over the summer has been to persuade the council to hold local consultation events, so that people have a chance to ask questions.
“Melbourn will see big changes too – and I requested a consultation event there too, but the council has said it isn’t necessary.
“I would encourage anyone with concerns to come to the Bassingbourn event, or please get in touch and I’ll try and point you in the right direction.”
A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire County Council said: “Children’s centre services will be more flexible and tailored for each community, delivered in places they know or already use and, in doing so, the council will make savings of £1 million.”
Councillor Simon Bywater, chairman of the county council’s children and young people committee, said: “We have a wide ranging set of proposals for child and family services and would encourage everyone to take part in our consultation.
“We need to make sure we get this right for communities and want to hear from local people.”
The Bassingbourn drop-in session on September 14 runs from 5pm to 7pm.
To take part in the online consultation before the September 22 deadline go to www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/children-and-families/children-s-centres/children-s-centres-consultation.