Two Suffolk children's centres to close after cuts approved

  • Published
Children's Centres protest
Image caption,
The changes sparked protests by families in Ipswich

Two children's centres are to close in Suffolk after cuts were approved by the council's cabinet.

Caterpillar Children's Centre in Woodbridge and Chatterbox in Ipswich will shut.

The council said the changes will offer more outreach services for hard-to-reach rural areas and cater for 0-19 year olds instead of just under fives.

But Neil Bland from trade union Unison described it as a "sad day for many Suffolk families".

The cuts will see control of eight centres return to school or nurseries they are attached to, and turn 11 into part-time hubs, with 17 staying open full-time, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The new model, called family hubs, will save around £435,000 in building costs which will be put towards staffing, helping recruit 12 outreach workers, the authority said.

Image caption,
The changes sparked protests by families in Ipswich

Conservative cabinet member for children's services and education, Mary Evans, added there would be no redundancies, and savings made from buildings would be re-invested in the service.

The decision to close and re-organise was due to be made last month but was delayed when errors were found in a council report.

Jack Abbott, Labour group spokesman for children's services said: "The 'evidence' backing their proposals is non-existent. They have ignored the pleas of families, children's centre staff and social workers who have all said that these plans simply do not stack up."

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Woodbridge's Caterpillar Centre and the Chatterbox Centre in north Ipswich will close

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