Sutton Council is holding an eight weeks consultation on the future of the borough’s Children’s Centres.
The consultation is on a restructured service which is being proposed using the results of an initial consultation carried out earlier this year in which 682 people took part.
The council is proposing to retain six full ‘hub’ Children’s Centres and four access points with a potential saving of £727,000. The ‘hub’ centres would deliver a full range of 13 services and ‘access point’ locations would open for popular sessions including Music and Rhyme and Play and Learning.
The council has also taken on board a number of suggestions from residents following the first consultation. These include having services spread out so they are close to where people live, making all sessions pre-bookable either online or via an app and a new course for parents with babies aged up to six months old.
The proposal, which would come into effect from mid-2016, includes a range of services that will continue to be free to parents, and there will be some services where a small charge will be made. Families on low incomes will not need to pay.
The council is having to reduce the cost of the service due to unprecedented government cuts to its annual budget, currently £148.4m. As a result, it has to save £74m from its annual budget between 2011 and 2019. So far the council has saved £43m from its annual budget. There is a further £31m to go.
At present Sutton funds 14 Children’s Centres, which support the early development of young children, assist parents in giving their children the best possible start in life, and encourage good physical and mental health for children and families.
Until now the council has sought to protect services for children and families. As a result, when many local authorities were reducing the number of Children’s Centres between 2008 and 2012, Sutton Council decided to retain them for as long as possible.
Wendy Mathys, Liberal Democrat Chair of the Children, Families and Education Committee, said: “Unprecedented government cuts to our budget mean we have no choice but to reduce the size of the council and the services we offer.
“Our Children’s Centres are a valuable community resource and it is with great regret that we are having to make these changes.
“We have listened to what parents have told us in the first consultation to create a new model. It’s important that people let us know what they think so we can continue to work together to find the best way of providing support with the money we have.
“We will do our best to retain as many of the services as possible. Many of these will continue to be free for all parents and families on low incomes will not need to pay.”
The consultation has been launched through Sutton’s Future, a campaign to involve residents in shaping the future of the borough through the government cuts. It includes an online survey as well as a workshop at every one of the 14 Children’s Centres. It will run from 5 October to 27 November. To take part visit www.sutton.gov.uk/suttonsfuture.
Consultation workshop dates:
- 12 October, 9.30-11.30am Muschamp Centre, Muschamp Road, Carshalton, SM5 2SE
- 13 October, 9.30-11.30am Victor Seymour Centre, Denmark Road, Carshalton, SM5 2JE
- 14 October, 9.30-11.30am Green Oak Cheam Centre, Cheam Library,
- 15 October, 9.30-11.30am Amy Johnson Centre, Brabazon Avenue, Wallington, SM6 9ET
- 15 October, 1.30-3.30pm The Grange Centre, Beddington Park, London Road, Wallington, SM6 7BT
- 16 October, 9.30-11.30am Green Oak Centre, Worcester Park, 671 London Road, North Cheam, SM3 9DL
- 16 October, 1.30-3.30pm Stanley Park Centre, Stanley Park Road, Carshalton, SM5 3JL
- 19 October, 9.30-11.30am Spencer Centre, Spencer Road, Mitcham, CR4 4JP
- 20 October, 9.30-11.30am Manor Park Centre, Myrtle Road, Sutton, SM1 4AW
- 20 October, 1.30-3.30pm Beddington Centre, Mallinson Road, Beddington, CR0 4UL
- 21 October, 9.30-11.30am Highview Centre,The Chase, Wallington, SM6 8JT
- 21 October, 1.30-3.30pm Shanklin Centre, 25 Rookley Close, Sutton, SM2 6TT
- 22 October, 9.30-11.30am Thomas Wall Centre, 69 Western Road, Sutton, SM1 2SX
- 22 October, 1.30-3.30pm Tweeddale Centre, Tweeddale Road, Carshalton, SM5 1SW