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'Families left high and dry' - councillor slams lack of plans for Norfolk's children's centres

PUBLISHED: 14:34 29 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:06 29 June 2019

Norfolk County Council has revealed plans for 11 of the centres set for closure - but plans for the other 27 have yet to be decided.  Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk County Council has revealed plans for 11 of the centres set for closure - but plans for the other 27 have yet to be decided. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A councillor has slammed the lack of plans over the future of the county's children's centres which are set to close later this year.

Mike Smith-Clare, Labour county councillor for Yarmouth Nelson and Southtown. Picture: Labour PartyMike Smith-Clare, Labour county councillor for Yarmouth Nelson and Southtown. Picture: Labour Party

In January, Norfolk County Council made the decision to close 38 of Norfolk's 53 children's centres by October, which has been met with great criticism from families and community leaders around the county.

The council recently announced plans for 11 of those centres to be taken over by schools, nursery providers and libraries.

But no plans have been revealed for the remaining 27 centres.

Mike Smith-Clare, Labour county councillor for Yarmouth Nelson and Southtown, said the uncertainty over the future of the remaining children's centre was having an adverse affect on families.

He said: "It is a great shock for families to hear that plans have only been made for 11 former children's centres.

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"To not know the future of 27 is appalling, particularly at a time when so many parents are reeling from the loss of their lifeline provision.

"It shows just how hollow the Tory administration's words are in promising that help will be provided to those most at need.

"From where those families are sitting now - it must feel like they've been left high and dry.

"Not to have concrete plans for filling the void left behind from the closure of essential children's centres is a disgrace, which cannot be hidden."

The council states a new early childhood and family service in the community for families with children aged up to five would help those who need support.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children's services at Norfolk County Council, said: "It is aimed at increasing the proportion of children achieving their developmental milestones, reducing neglect and increasing social mobility.

"We can do this by moving services out of children's centre buildings into people's homes and other community venues. In freeing up this space we can create more nursery provision, specialist school places and library space for local communities, which all fit with the aims of our new service."

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