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Debate flares over future of children's centres in Alcester and Studley
12:20pm Thursday 29th August 2013 in News
A DEBATE over the future of children’s centres in Alcester and Studley has stirred up a confrontation between Conservative and Liberal Democrat county councillors in Warwickshire.
The conservative-led Warwickshire County Council is looking to make savings of £2.3million to its children’s centre budget by changing the delivery model for the county’s 39 children’s centres.
It has already launched a public consultation, which closed on August 27, but a recent meeting of the county council’s children and young people overview and scrutiny committee called for a vote on one of three options for the future running of the children’s centres to take to the council’s cabinet.
Currently Alcester and Studley both house children’s centres, but under two of the three options offered, they would either each be grouped together with centres in Clopton and Stratford respectively, or both would be grouped together with the Stratford children’s centre as one grouping.
Conservative committee spokesman Councillor Mike Perry, said: “We had a duty to recommend one of the three options on the table to go to the council’s cabinet on September 12. Only one option ensures that all of the county’s highly valued children’s centres would remain open and I was amazed that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats did not agree with the Conservative members who insisted that no centre should close.”
Liberal Democrat councillors Clive Rickhards and Jerry Roodhouse were at the overview and scrutiny committee meeting.
Councillor Rickhards said: “All members of the committee made clear they objected to the closure of any children’s centre, but opposition members were not prepared to support option one outright given there remained a lot of unanswered questions about the impact of the proposed funding cuts, redundancy implications, governance arrangements and service delivery outcomes.”
Councillor Roodhouse added: “It’s not the job of the overview and scrutiny committee to do the cabinet’s work for them. It is the Conservative administration which has proposed these massive funding cuts to children’s centre budgets for next financial year, and has set a very tight timetable for consultation and decision making.”
The final decision over how to proceed will be made at a meeting of the council’s cabinet on September 12.
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