VULNERABLE youngsters could be at risk after proposals to close children’s centres in Stratford were revealed.
Councillor Jenny Fradgley has raised concerns about Warwickshire County Council’s plans to close a number of centres and replace them with ‘family hubs’.
The county currently has 39 childrens centres, eight of which are in Stratford district.
All these would go to be replaced by 12 ‘all purpose’ family hubs, one of which would be in Alcester. The hub would integrate family, education and housing support services.
The current centres – which offer help and advice to parents – are facing huge funding cuts of £1.1million to make up for the £67million drop in government funding by 2020.
The council says the ‘family hubs’ model would benefit families by bringing all services under one roof.
But Coun Jenny Fradgley thinks it could hit disadvantaged children in Stratford hard.
She said: “These are cost cutting measures from the County Council. It seems a very short-term measure which could lead to more problems for children in later years.
‘It’s difficult to see how disadvantaged children won’t be affected by closing facilities in Stratford and replacing them with something in Alcester.”
The concerns are shared by the Warwickshire County Labour group which has started a petition against the plans, claiming many children could be at greater risk of being taken into the care system without children’s centre support.
New Warwick and Leamington Labour MP Matt Western said, “Our local children’s centre staff spend a significant proportion of their time and energy supporting families where children are at risk of being removed, or being made subject to Child Protection plans.
“Staff work hard towards encouraging families to be more resilient by helping them develop their parenting skills.”
Green county councillor Jonathan Chilvers also pointed out that the risk to children in the longer term makes the cuts a false economy.
The public is being urged to have their say on the plans. A consultation period will run from Monday June 26 to September 8, before councillors make a final decision in October.
Visit warwickshire.gov.uk/ask to submit views.