A consultation on closing five Children’s Centres in East Sussex has been slammed by Labour’s parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen who says parents are unaware of what is at stake.
The County Council has announced proposals to ‘de-designate’ a total of five centres in the county, including Churchwood, Red Lake and Silverdale, all in Hastings, but budget papers show that 'de-designation' actually means they will close.
The threatened Children’s Centres will be handed back to schools, and some of the popular services they currently provide for local families will no longer be guaranteed.
East Sussex County Council has offered no alternatives to closing and reconfiguring the children’s centres to accommodate new early years education places for two year olds.
The term ‘de-designation’ means they will cease to be Children’s Centres and close," Sarah Owen.
Campaigners and parents have argued this is a short-sighted move, which offers no choice and gives with one hand and takes with another.
The one public meeting held by East Sussex County Council was very poorly attended with just eight parents present out of the hundreds who use the Children’s Centres.
Sarah Owen, Labour’s candidate for MP in Hastings and Rye, said: “Hastings has lost more than its fair share of services from this Government and East Sussex County Council. They should be honest about their plans to close three Children’s Centres in the town. The term ‘de-designation’ means they will cease to be Children’s Centres and close.
“I call on the senior Conservative politicians in charge of this shambles to scrap this consultation and start again. Parents, children and staff deserve a simpler and more honest consultation on whether their Children’s Centres are lost.
“It is essential that the County Council seeks out and listens to families who actually use the services currently provided at these Children’s Centres. I am being contacted by families who are extremely concerned to hear that our centres are under threat and who feel the County Council’s consultation documents are difficult to understand.”
Sarah is campaigning to save the centres which provide essential support to parents and also tackle problems of isolation, find out more about the campaign by visiting: sarahowen.org.uk/saveourchildrenscentres.
Take part in the County Council’s consultation too by visiting eastsussex.gov.uk/childrens-centre-changes