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Plea from parents to protect Norfolk’s under-threat children’s centres

PUBLISHED: 17:07 12 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:07 12 December 2017

Shadow minister for early years Tracy Brabin with a parent at Earlham Early Years Centre. Picture: Bradley Marshall

Shadow minister for early years Tracy Brabin with a parent at Earlham Early Years Centre. Picture: Bradley Marshall

Archant

Parents have said it is critical that “lifeline” under-threat children’s centres are protected from major cuts.

Early years shadow minister Tracy Brabin, second from left, with parents at Earlham Early Years Centre. Picture: Archant staffEarly years shadow minister Tracy Brabin, second from left, with parents at Earlham Early Years Centre. Picture: Archant staff

Norfolk County Council is considering cutting £5m from the £10m budget to commission children’s centres, and on Monday voted down a Labour motion to pull the proposal.

On Tuesday, Tracy Brabin, shadow minister for early years, visited the Earlham Early Years Centre, on Motum Road, to meet parents and see the centre’s impact first-hand.

Among the parents she met was 25-year-old Emma Creenan, who was with her eight-month-old daughter Darcy.

She said: “I wouldn’t leave the house if it wasn’t for this centre. Before I came I did spend a lot of time at home and it got to the point where I was feeling really low.

MORE: Bid to scrap controversial £5m budget cuts for Norfolk children’s centres fails

“This has been a lifeline for us and there’s nowhere else to go where there isn’t charges.”

She also spoke to Kattrina Loizou, who lives close to the centre and said, having recently moved from London, the centre offered her support and a social life.

Kate Bateson, with son Ashton, said the centre had been “amazing”for her family and, should anything happen to the provision, it would be a “massive loss”.

Mrs Bateson added: “Even a 5pc cut would make a difference - there would be someone that missed out.”

Mrs Brabin said to change a child’s life, the quality of early years provision was key.

“What we have been concerned about is this complete decimation of what was the jewel in the crown for the Labour party,” she said.

MORE: Cutting £5m from budget for Norfolk children’s centres is ‘too high risk’, say critics

“The impact children’s centres have in the community is massive, and that’s all been rolled back at a time when it could not be more necessary.”

She said the centre was a clear example of great practice, and that the benefits affected parents as much as children.

“It goes beyond the children and into the family,” she said.

Emma Corlett, a Labour county councillor, said it was “absolutely critical” to protect centres.

“The difference it makes to their lives is significant - if we are serious about giving children in Norfolk the best chance in life, our children’s centres are something we should protect,” she said.

“All the evidence shows you can have a big impact in children’s first two years of life.”

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