Decision to close children’s centres set to be reviewed

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

The decision to close two children’s centres in Hadleigh and Glemsford has been suspended, pending a review.

The decision to close the Woodlands and Brett River centres was made last Tuesday by Suffolk County Council cabinet members, despite protests across the county from parents and campaigners fighting to retain the service.

Now the decision has been called in for scrutiny by five county councillors on the basis that the closures go against the authority’s duty to provide sufficient children’s centres.

Out of the nine centres facing closure county-wide, the Hadleigh and Glemsford centres were highlighted as those which would fail to meet local need if they close.

A spokesman for the county council said: “The decision is suspended until the outcome of its consideration at the scrutiny committee meeting, which will take place on Wednesday.”

Jane Basham, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Suffolk, who has campaigned with parents from Hadleigh and Glemsford, said: “The reason the decision has been called in is that there is statutory guidance that says the council should not be closing children’s centres unless they have done a full assessment of the adverse impact on children.

“But the history of the scrutiny committee so far has been very one sided because the Conservatives control the committee in terms of numbers.”

She said the only way children’s centre users could be optimistic about their future is if the committee decides to refer the decision back to full council, where an open debate can take place.