Bid launched to save six children’s centres in Great Yarmouth area from closure

Councillor Mike Smith-Clare, labour lead for children and young people, at the protest at County Hal

Councillor Mike Smith-Clare, labour lead for children and young people, at the protest at County Hall against the closure of the children's centres. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Councillors in Great Yarmouth have joined the campaign to save children’s centres across the county from closure, by bidding to protect the six in their borough.

Last month, Norfolk County Council revealed plans to transform children’s services in the region, which included the closure of 46 of the county’s 53 Sure Start centres.

The proposals have been met with opposition from parents, protesters and parish councils alike since the consultation began.

Now, Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s Labour group has added its voice to those opposed, with a motion to be tabled next week.

At full council on Thursday, November 1, the group will table a motion urging the borough council to heap pressure on the county council to scrap the scheme - for at least the centres in the Yarmouth area.

The motion calls on the borough council to write to county council leader Andrew Proctor and chief executive Wendy Thompson asking them to cancel the proposed closures of the six Sure Start centres in the borough.

It says: “The closure of these valued centres will have a huge impact on the lives of vulnerable people, families and young children in these affected areas.

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“Most of the cuts are not buildings, but staff costs. Professional lead support will be cut and trained staff made redundant.”

Two centres in Great Yarmouth are under threat - the Priory Centre and the Barracks - while centres in Belton, Caister, Gorleston and Martham could also be closed.

Trevor Wainwright, leader of the group, said: “We understand this is all to down to cuts to local government funding, which is under constant attack from central government.

“However, while funding is obviously tight, this is something my members feel very passionately.”

Meanwhile, Labour councillor Mike Smith-Clare - who also sits on the county council’s children’s services committee, has organised a march against the closures next month.

He said: “This is a chance for people to show people why essential children’s centres must remain open. It is essential we fight for our centres and if we don’t we are ignoring the needs of our county’s families.”

The march will start at St George’s Park in the town at 10.30am on Saturday, November 10.