Kent

Medway Council plans to axe all children's centres

Medway Council building
Image caption The council is spending money saved from cuts to children's centres on Battle of Medway commemorations in June

Plans by a Conservative council to axe all 19 children's centres have been met with "dismay" by the Labour opposition.

Medway Council said the centres would be replaced by four "super hubs".

The move comes after the council agreed a £60,000 cut in funding for children's centres to help pay for the Battle of Medway commemorations.

Labour councillors criticised the plans saying a consultation was due to be held while many families were away on holiday.

Andrew Mackness, the Conservative lead member for children's services, said: "The super hubs would provide a better range of services in the community."

He said the changes were not being considered only for financial reasons.

Job losses

"I look to constantly improve the services and provide appropriate services," Mr Mackness said.

He said jobs may be lost if the proposals are approved.

Medway's 19 children's centres are mainly based in primary schools.

Adam Price, the Labour spokesman for Children and Young People, said: "I would like to express my dismay at the proposal.

"The timing of the public consultation from 23 May to 4 July could be perceived as a deliberate attempt to minimise contributions from stakeholders.

"Many of the concerned parties, as parents of pre-school children, use the summer term period to go on holiday."

He said council meetings at which the proposals are due to be discussed were "in the middle of the school summer break".

In the council's budget, which was approved on 23 February, the authority said £160,000 funding for the Battle of Medway commemorations was to be paid for from an additional £100,000 income from crematoriums and £60,000 from cuts to children's centres.

Battle of Medway

  • In June 1667 the Dutch fleet sailed up the River Medway and attacked the English fleet
  • The Dutch burned a number of ships before towing away England's flagship
  • The English sank 30 of their own ships to stop the Dutch capturing them
  • It was one of England's greatest naval disasters and left the river engulfed in flames
  • The invasion helped bring the second Anglo-Dutch War to an end

Source: Visit Medway

There will be 10 days of events in June to mark the 350th anniversary of the battle and 50,000 people are expected to attend.

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