Plans to close Kenilworth’s children centres challenged by town council

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Plans to close both of Kenilworth children’s centres have been challenged by Kenilworth Town Council.

Warwickshire County Council plans to replace 12 of its 39 children’s centres in the county with ‘family hubs’.

Under current plans, Kenilworth’s two centres in Bertie Road and at St John’s Primary School would close, and the town would not get a family hub.

At a town council meeting on Thursday July 20, Cllr Richard Dickson (Lib Dem, St John’s) put forward a motion that the town council formally expresses its concern to the county council over their plans, and encourages all residents to respond to the consultation.

He said: “It’s where a lot of parents form vital relationships. Several have said they fear for their mental health if the children’s centres are closed in Kenilworth.

“One parent I spoke to has one child and if the children’s centres close, it would put her off having another.”

Cllr Pat Cain (Con, St John’s) proposed a slight amendment to the motion, which was to say the town council ‘strongly supports’ the objections raised by Kenilworth’s three county councillors.

In the discussion following the motion, Cllr Felicity Bunker (Con, Park Hill) said the county council needed to ‘get its spending priority correct’.

And Cllr Michael Coker (Con, Abbey) said: “There’s a feeling that these sorts of centres should only be in deprived areas. In fact, it’s nothing to do with that. Everybody needs children’s centres.

“Young mothers can be very, very lonely because of the stress. They need the assistance.”

There was also criticism of the proposals from residents present at the meeting. Trevor Martin complained about the length of the 22-page online questionnaire used in the consultation, claiming the connection would time out before he could finish it.

He proposed a new, much shorter questionnaire consisting of just three questions for people to use. It can be accessed here.

Trevor added: “Under the current proposal, it’s likely that in future, Kenilworth would probably get a level of support similar to outlying villages.

“But Kenilworth is not a village. It has a population of nearly 24,000 and it’s one of the three major town’s in Warwick district.”

In the end, the amended motion was agreed unanimously.