Wiltshire

Swindon children's centre changes planned by council

Possible changes to Swindon's 14 children's centres have been put out to consultation by the borough council.

The proposals include apportioning more money where there are more vulnerable children, having fewer buildings and joining centres together in clusters.

A reduction in staffing costs has also been put forward by the authority as a way to protect services, after it cut £390,000 from its 2013-15 budgets.

The authority said a "fresh look" was needed for parents with young children.

It said "resources do not currently meet demand" and budgets were not directed where they were most needed.

The council highlighted that its busiest children's centre received the fourth highest level of funding, despite providing services to more than 1,000 more children than the second-busiest centre.

"The work done by children's centres is hugely valuable, but the way we currently provide the service is not sustainable, and no longer in the best interests of particularly vulnerable children in meeting their needs," said council leader David Renard.

Jim Grant, Labour group leader said: "What is being proposed is a change in the purpose of children centres in Swindon.

"The original purpose of children's centres were to be hubs of the community, able to provide support and advice to all parents.

"These proposals end the idea of children's centres being hubs of the community, leaving children's centres only supporting a minority of parents in the town."

The consultation will run until 16 August.

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