Children’s Centre services could stay in Hadleigh

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A county councillor has said Children’s Centre services may remain in Hadleigh as an alternative proposal looks likely to be adopted.

Suffolk County Councillor, David Busby, said he is 80 per cent sure that the service offered by Brett Rivers Children’s Centre will move to Hadleigh Leisure Centre.

The proposed idea was suggested after Suffolk County Council announced their plans to merge the service with the Cherry Blossom centre six miles away in East Bergholt.

The council’s public consultation ended just over two weeks ago but it was met with widespread frustration from parents who rely on the service.

Mr Busby said he is confident that the idea put forward by Babergh District Councillor Michael Bamford will be adopted by the county council.

He said it is more than likely that the service will move to the leisure centre even if the staff are managed under the East Bergholt centre.

“I’m certainly more hopeful now than I was when I first heard what they were planning.” said Mr Busby.

Dr Bamford, a former paediatric consultant at Ipswich hospital, put forward the alternative to relocating the service before the consultation period began in July.

The Babergh councillor, who sits on the advisory board for the centres facing closure, has pushed the idea as a solution.

“From the word go I was really very concerned,” said Dr Bamford.

“This is a vital service for parents with babies and young children in the Hadleigh area.”

He said the leisure centre would be an ideal space with easy access, parking and facilities.

“It would be a terrific outcome,” he said.

“It is a preferable option in terms of the benefits to families, staff and in terms of costs.”

Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate Grace Weaver has supported Dr Bamford’s alternative.

“Children’s centres provide a great service and a huge amount of support to young families, some of whom don’t have access to a car,” she said.

“They rely on the service being local, and there is clearly a great need for such services in Hadleigh and the surrounding area.

“There are also a large number of service families in the town, who would have lost out.”

A county council spokesman said moving the service to the leisure centre is one of the avenues being explored.

He confirmed that the findings from the public consultation will be reported to cabinet members at a meeting in December.

The four-month consultation into Children’s Centres across the county was criticised earlier this month by campaigners who said the process failed to reach those who rely on the service.

The Woodlands centre in Glemsford is also under threat of closure with the council proposing to merge it with the Phoenix Centre in Sudbury.