Opposition councillors campaign against potential closure of children's centres in Suffolk including facilities in Sudbury and Great Cornard
Opposition councillors campaigning against controversial plans to close children’s centres across the county have voiced their concerns over the proposals.
As part of cost-cutting measures, 38 of the facilities, which include centres in Sudbury and Great Cornard, are currently under review, with a cross-party policy development panel (PDP) set up at Suffolk County Council to examine the county’s health and children’s centres.
Opposition councillors from various parties recently withdrew their involvement from the group, citing concerns over the handling of the proposals as reasons for their decision.
Jack Owen, a county councillor for Sudbury, who is campaigning against any potential cuts, highlighted the importance of providing such facilities in the community.
“Children’s centres are a lifeline for hundreds of families in our county – the work they do is nothing short of inspirational,” he said.
“The removal of these wonderful centres would have a horrendous impact on families, especially in places like Sudbury and Great Cornard.
“People are seeing vital public services chipped away at, yet are being asked to pay more and more in council tax.
“Why does the county council keep targeting families, particularly in rural areas?
“Just last year, the authority forced through its catastrophic school transport policy, and now it is looking to close half of our remaining children’s centres – it really is shameful.”
Labour’s education spokesman Jack Abbott argued that sufficient funding in the facilities would provide a more cost-effective approach in the long run.
“It is time the council realises the value in properly funding children’s centres, support services, early intervention and youth provision,” he said.
“Investment in these areas would not only bring huge social benefits to children and their families, but it would also save the council money further down the line.”
Catherine Burrows, of Stanley Road, Sudbury, has benefited from using The Phoenix Centre in Tudor Road, which she credited with providing a support network for countless parents.
“We need that camaraderie,” said the 39-year-old, who added that, without the right level of support, there was a risk of new parents becoming isolated. “I’m lucky because I have family, but some people don’t.”
The mother-of-one, who has a four-year-old daughter, said it was paramount that people were given the confidence to ask a wide range of questions concerning parenting.
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “A number of service options are currently being looked at. This is based on the feedback we have received from listening to parents and other users of the service across Suffolk.
“A policy development panel is working towards a proposal based on all the information and facts available, and the plan is for a proposal to go to the council’s cabinet in June for initial discussion and consideration.
“A full period of public engagement will take place as part of this process in due course.
“At this point in time, there are no proposals, or decisions taken, so any speculation is completely unfounded.”