26th Oct, 2016

County council chiefs blasted over cuts to children's centres

Joshua Godfrey 11th Oct, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

‘DISTRAUGHT’ staff at children’s centres run by Worcestershire County Council have published a damning letter slamming the authority’s handling of proposed cutbacks.

The anonymous letter sent to campaign group Worcestershire Mums by ‘long-serving staff members’ has attacked County Hall chiefs for having ‘no idea’ what impact the cuts will have on children and families in Worcestershire.

Leases of the children’s centre buildings will be handed over to schools and childcare providers as council funding is to drop from £6.4million a year to £3m.

Three children’s centres in the Vale will be affected by the cuts, with activity sessions and health services scrapped altogether at one centre.

The letter said: “For months and months we’ve bitten our tongues, writhing silently in sheer frustration at the ignorance of a select few of the county’s decision makers who seemingly have no idea what an enormous impact their decisions are going to have to the detriment of our children and young people in Worcestershire.

“So why are we speaking out now? Are we bitter that most of us are currently being made redundant?

“Angry that some of us are still unaware whether we have a job or not as we’re still going through a process? No, we’re not bitter, not at all. Devastated, yes.

“We can see, we truly know what the picture looks like from the ground, and we are fearful of what the future holds for the hundreds of families we work with.

“Running on a skeletal workforce, where staffing levels have been forcibly cut by over 50 per cent, the potential for things to be missed is vast and that is what scares us the most.

“The thought of any child coming to harm because of cuts to this service truly devastates us.”

In response, Coun Marc Bayliss, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Children and Families, said: “We have said that we will not be closing any of our children’s centres and we have kept to that promise.

“The schools and childcare providers taking on these buildings have got some very encouraging plans for how they will continue working with partners to support children and families.

“I have personally attended around ten meetings with parents, councillors and other representatives where I have answered questions.

“We have listened to what people have said and have decided to invest an extra £30k to help support the future delivery of support activities and groups such as Stay and Play and breastfeeding support groups.”