A DISTRAUGHT Evesham mum has hit out at council chiefs after discovering a closure notice pinned up on the front door of a town children’s centre.
Daisy Halford spoke to the Observer of her shock when she found out only on Tuesday (November 8) that next week’s baby time session she attends with her 11-month-old son at the Orchard and Spring Vale Children’s Centre would be the last.
The notice claimed the Four Pools Lane centre will be closing on November 30; however Worcestershire County Council insists it is not and will be transferring over to a new operator under a new lease.
Back in September, council chiefs voted through funding cuts to children’s centres – with funding being slashed from £6.4million to £3million a year, resulting in significant reductions in services at three centres in the Vale.
Mrs Halford also claimed she was told by centre staff that family support workers covering Evesham and Pershore would be cut from 12 to just five as a result in the drop in funding.
“How angry, sad and upset I and many other parents were,” Mrs Halford said.
“Why haven’t we been given any formal notice about this?
“A lot of families, including my own, use this valuable service on a weekly basis. We have access to a family support worker, family workers, midwife, and health visiting service, support, help, and guidance and so much more under one roof.”
As part of the new lease deal for the Orchard and Spring Vale building, the main activity room will now be used as a nursery during the day and throughout term time, resulting in children’s centre services that are still available being moved to other times.
Health provision will also continue in a separate room; however there will be a reduction in universal sessions at the centre.
Mrs Halford added: “The health visiting service doesn’t know where their clinics are going to run from, we have no support bases we can go to.
“Absolutely fantastic qualified professionals are losing their jobs. This is affecting their lives as much as it is affecting families and parents. How will this change affect their home lives, their husbands, partners and their children?
“It won’t be until a family has been in danger who has used the children’s centre, but has had their’s closed, has been in a vulnerable position, that Coun Marc Bayliss will have realised what he has done.”
In response, Coun Marc Bayliss, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Children and Families, said: “Orchard and Spring Vale Children’s Centre is not closing, although services are changing.
“We’re in a period of transition to the new way of working so timetables will change as providers adjust services to focus on supporting families who need it most.”
Save our Children’s Centres campaign group will be holding a public meeting tomorrow (Saturday) at the Quaker Meeting House on Chapel Street from 1.30pm to 3.30pm on changes to children’s centres in the Vale.
Visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/childrenscentres for more information on the new timetables for services at children’s centres.