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‘It would be devastating’ - father launches petition against proposed Sure Start closures

PUBLISHED: 16:21 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:21 21 September 2018

Jon and Clare Watson, who have launched a petition against proposals to close children's centres in Norfolk. Picture: Janet Watson

Jon and Clare Watson, who have launched a petition against proposals to close children's centres in Norfolk. Picture: Janet Watson

Janet Watson

A father whose two sons rely on one of the 46 children’s centres under threat of closure has urged people to make their voices heard over the controversial proposals.

Jon and Clare Watson, who have launched a petition against proposals to close children's centres in Norfolk, with sons Callum and Aiden. Picture: Janet WatsonJon and Clare Watson, who have launched a petition against proposals to close children's centres in Norfolk, with sons Callum and Aiden. Picture: Janet Watson

Jon Watson, a web developer from Bowthorpe, has put his professional skills to use to lead a charge against the county council’s potential measure.

He has set up a website - Save Sure Start.co.uk - and petition campaigning against the proposals, which would see the county left with just seven centres, as opposed to the existing 53.

Mr Watson, 33, said he had been motivated after seeing the difference the centre made for his two sons, four-year-old Callum and Aiden, two.

He said: “When Callum was younger, he suffered from glue ear which gave him real difficulties learning to talk.

“However, the help he received at Sure Start was wonderful - they gave him one to one sessions, speech therapy and make a real difference to his development.

“They also helped my wife Claire and I too - without them we would have had no idea where to begin supporting him ourselves.”

Callum attends the centre on Humbleyard five days a week, while his younger brother visits three times per week.

He added: “They really make such a difference to the families that receive their support - it would be utterly devastating if they were to be closed.”

Mr Watson said since it launched, more than 300 people have signed the petition, but also urged people to contribute to the council’s statutory consultation.

Penny Carpenter, chairman of the children’s services committee at County Hall said she was pleased with the number of people that had already contributed to the consultation - already at 380.

She added: “We are proposing a new service that brings services out of children’s centre buildings and into the community, to the children and families who need them the most. We also want to help communities to offer local activities and groups and to ensure that those families that really need our help are accessing our services.”

To consultation can be found by visiting www.norfolk.gov.uk/childrenscentres.

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