Warwick residents urged to have say in children’s centre consultation

GV - Shire Hall, Warwick. NNL-161201-211215009
GV - Shire Hall, Warwick. NNL-161201-211215009

The residents of Warwick are being urged to have their say about Children’s centres following a public meeting earlier this week.

In June Warwickshire County Council put a plan out to public consultation to replace the 39 children’s centres across the area with 12 community hubs, with three of those being at existing sites in Lillington, Sydenham and Westgate in Warwick. The centres in the Warwick District which would be subject to reassessment including alternative options and potential closure would be Kenilworth, Kingsway, Newburgh, St John’s and Whitnash.

On Monday a public consultation meeting about the cuts to children’s centres was held at Northgate House in Warwick.

The meeting was well-attended and many people voiced their concerns about the cuts and the proposed ‘family hubs’.

John Holland, county councillor for Warwick, said: “I think the meeting was successful and I hope in Warwick we can reach a consensus in the way forward in developing children’s centres into family hubs and work across political parties to find the best solution for Warwick but we need to work quickly to be in time.

“I would urge anyone and everyone to take part in the consultation. The questionnaire is complicated but if people find it difficult I suggest they send an email or letter setting out their views.

“It is very important as the original concept of children’s centres was that instead of parents taking their children around to different departments that they would be in one place and get all the different people to come to them and it was customer centred, but we have shifted away from that.

“We need to get back to the original concept.

“After more than 10 years a review is a good idea as there are issued like services for 0-five year-olds, should we be looking to extend that and how we can work with the schools for this.

“Now is the time to have your say before the final decisions are made and the more contributions from the public and service users the more likely we are to get the service Warwick needs.”

Jenny St John, chair of Warwick children’s centres advisory board, said: “It was good to see a large number of people attending the children’s centres public consultation meeting on Monday evening.

“Many concerns were raised, including: the risks of services being reduced for parent/carers and children as set out in the county’s own Equality Impact Assessment, that centre closures could mean families having to travel further to reach essential services and that the budget allocated for children under five may no longer be ring-fenced for that age group.

“The possibility of retaining the present children’s centres budget by reversing the £1.12m cut at the county’s next budget-setting meeting in February was also raised.

“The consultation runs until midday on September 11 and I would urge as many people as possible to respond.

“It is online on the county’s Ask Warwickshire website, paper copies can be collected from any local children’s centre, or you can email your views to: familyhubs@warwickshire.gov.uk”

A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said: “The council is proposing changes to how services are provided to local children and their families by remodelling its children’s centres and considering different ways to make sure families who use them get the right support for the right issues at the right time.

“A consultation is now underway asking residents to give their views. It launched on 29 June and will run for 11 weeks until September 11.

“There are a number of ways people can get in touch to put their views forward. They can do this online, attend a public meeting, email us or speak to a member of staff by calling 01926 742350 to make an appointment.

“Emails can be sent to familyhubs@warwickshire.gov.uk

“The council is committed to listening to ideas and developing conversations with communities. All consultation responses will be analysed and a report will be published and presented to the County Council for a final decision in Autumn 2017.

“More information and the online consultation is available through www.warwickshire.gov.uk/familyhubsconsultation”