Campaigners urge for rethink on proposed cuts to Warwickshire children’s centres

Photo of a recent protest in Warwick about the proposed cuts to children's centres in Warwickshire.
Photo of a recent protest in Warwick about the proposed cuts to children's centres in Warwickshire.

Campaigners are urging councillors to rethink their proposed cuts to children’s centres after handing over a 1,800-signature petition to Warwickshire County Council.

In an email to the county council, Jim Ellis, who organised the petition and is a Labour party campaigner, wrote: “We are asking for a rethink – the current arrangement is liable to lead to a Victoria Climbie or Daniel Pelka as children slip through a well meaning but badly performing patch-up of a service.

“The pennies that the services cost today will lead to pounds in solving the problems of the future.”

Daniel Pelka, of Coventry, was murdered in 2012 aged four by his mother and her partner after years of abuse which went undetected.

The proposal put forward by the Tory-led council would lead to the 39 children’s centres across the area being replaced by 12 family hubs with three of those being at existing sites in Lillington, Sydenham and Westgate in Warwick.

Centres in the Warwick District Council area which would be subject to reassessment including alternative options and potential closures would be Kenilworth, Kingsway, Newburgh, St John’s and Whitnash.

But Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “We are not looking to stop services for children and families.

“The challenges faced by our families change continually and our services need to evolve alongside this.

“The proposals look at evolving 12 of the 39 centres into family hubs to offer direct targeted support at locations where we have identified the greatest level of need.”

Mr Ellis said: “I do understand there has to be a reduced budget, but the budget we have is not good enough.”

He said he is concerned proposals to use church halls and volunteers to replace services offered by children’s centres could mean parents may not get the help they need.

He added: “A visit to a church hall and a chat with volunteers may help someone with baby blues, but would not be enough for parents with mental health problems.

“Having volunteers in church halls would be lovely, but do they have the experience to counsel somebody?”

The petition can be accessed at goo.gl/3bzAaE