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CONFIRMED: Medway council chiefs rubber-stamp plans for 13 children’s centres

PUBLISHED: 15:25 08 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:25 08 August 2017

Children's centres in Medway are under threat

Children's centres in Medway are under threat

Serban George

Initial plans proposed closing all 19 Sure Stars centres but these were amended after a public backlash

Plans to maintain 13 children’s centres in Medway were rubber-stamped by council chiefs on Tuesday.

Last week, the local authority suggested that controversial plans to shut down all of the Sure Start centres and replace them with four ‘super hubs’ are set to be scrapped following a six-week public consultation.

There was an intense backlash to the proposals earlier this summer as parents marched and protested, with Labour frontbencher Angela Raynor even getting involved, describing the plans as “an absolute scandal”.

In total, 42 community and professional engagement meetings were held and more than 900 people submitted feedback.

Now, the Conservative-controlled council appears to have rowed back on its initial proposals, and has instead agreed that 13 out of the 19 are maintained, with four of them becoming hubs, which would combine children’s centre services for 0-5-year-olds, with early help teams who work with families and children who are aged five and upwards.

The proposed locations for the new hubs are at Gun Lane Children’s Centre (All Faiths) in Strood and Strood Youth Centre, All Saints in Chatham, Wayfield in Chatham and Woodlands in Gillingham.

After the cabinet agreed on the remodel, bosses say implementation could start in early 2018.

Andrew Mackness, Medway Council’s portfolio holder for children’s services, said last week: “Providing support and opportunities for Medway’s children remains a key priority for the council.

“We have had some tough decisions to make following changes in government funding.

“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to submit feedback or come along to one of the sessions to find out more information about the proposals.

“We have listened to the public’s feedback and used this to design a model for our early help services that best meets everyone’s needs and can achieve the £1.6m that we are required to save.

“I will be recommending to cabinet on August 8 that early help services are provided through 13 centres, of which four will become new children and family hubs.

“The hubs will provide multi-agency services to the children and families within our communities who need and deserve our targeted help and support.”

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