Council urged to grasp ‘golden opportunity’ to address Children’s Centre concerns

Bath and North East Somerset Council has been urged to grasp a ‘golden opportunity’ to address residents’ concerns over plans to cut the authority’s Children’s Centre budget by up to 38%.

The planned cutbacks are set to be debated by councillors at a Council meeting next Thursday, 16th January.

Conservative councillors have said that the Liberal Democrat-run authority must use the opportunity presented by the meeting to respond to residents’ concerns over the current plans and spell out what action the Council will take to reduce the impact of the £2.3 million cuts.

Conservative councillors have already secured some concessions in relation to the Council’s plans for Children’s Centres, including a request for the authority to look again at the scale of the planned budget cut. Conservatives have said that whilst some sensible savings can be made, the current scale of cuts to the Council’s Early Years budget would result in irreparable damage to the services provided by Children’s Centres.

Under the authority’s current plans, the Council would retain just three or four ‘hub’ Children’s Centres in Bath, Keynsham and Radstock, with the remaining centres needing to be run by voluntary or other organisations.

Conservative shadow spokesman for Early Years, Children and Youth, Cllr Michael Evans, said:

“Despite numerous requests for greater clarity over the future of Children’s Centres within Bath and North East Somerset, there remains much uncertainty over what services will continue to be delivered and who will be able to access them.

“Next week’s Council meeting will be a golden opportunity for the Liberal Democrats to answer these questions and address the concerns of local residents. Most importantly, it will be a chance for the Lib Dem Cabinet to listen to local people and agree to reduce the scale of cutbacks to Children’s Centres in this year’s Council budget.

“It’s wrong for local parents to be kept in the dark and left fearful for the future of their local Children’s Centre, and it’s time that the Council took action to allay these fears.”