Scrutiny committee rubber-stamps controversial Medway children’s centre plans

PUBLISHED: 09:46 01 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:46 01 September 2017

Children's centres in Medway are under threat

Children's centres in Medway are under threat

Serban George

The council is scrapping six of the 19 centres across the district - but had originally planned to close all of them

Plans to close six children’s centres in Medway were officially rubber-stamped by the council’s scrutiny committee this week.

Last month, the local authority agreed that controversial plans to shut down all 19 of the Sure Start centres and replace them with four ‘super hubs’ were 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.

Subsequently, the Conservative-controlled council rowed back on its initial proposals, and 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.

The decision was ‘called-in’ by opposition councillors, who had stormed out of an earlier meeting over the row, but the committee this week gave the plans final approval, with bosses saying implementation could start in early 2018.

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