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County Hall bosses insist not all Norfolk children’s centres would close in shake-up

PUBLISHED: 14:03 06 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:03 06 November 2018

Families against the closure of children's centres, meet Stuart Dark, back third left, chairman of the children's services committee, and Tim Eyres, right, head of children's intergrated commissioning at County Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Families against the closure of children's centres, meet Stuart Dark, back third left, chairman of the children's services committee, and Tim Eyres, right, head of children's intergrated commissioning at County Hall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Council bosses have insisted seven children’s centres would remain open to the public if proposals to close the remaining 46 do go through.

Norfolk County Council announced in September that a review of the service could see 46 of the 53 children’s centres close their doors.

They said seven would remain open and would serve as bases for staff doing outreach work.

But campaigners against the closures, said, during talks with councillors and officers, they had been led to believe those bases would no longer run as children’s centres.

However, the council has insisted they will still be open to the public to drop in to, as well as being bases for staff doing outreach work.

The council recently released an extra Q&A about their proposals in response to questions, in which they state that the bases “would be used as places for staff to work across the district and to deliver some of the local services”.

But Bowthorpe father Jon Watson, who set up the Save Sure Start website, says during his own meetings with council officers, he had been told the centres would all shut.

When pressed to explain if people would still be able to use the seven remaining centres, the council said: “Local families will be able to drop into any of the proposed bases, including those who are not already receiving support.

“They will be able to access information and advice, including finding out about services, as well as get support and make use of activities on offer.

“We expect there to be a range of services available to families in the local area, some of which may be delivered at the base, alongside greater use of more local spaces.

“This will create more opportunities for families to access services, rather than having to go to a specific building.”

Mr Watson said: “That seems a contradiction to what we were told. And I think it demonstrates that people are being asked to respond to this consultation when there is a great deal of confusion about what they are proposing.

“There are still many unanswered questions, such as how many staff will be working across the service?”

More than 1,000 people have taken part in the consultation so far.

The last of a string of consultation drop-in events will be held at Great Yarmouth’s central library on Wednesday, November 7. It will run from 9am until 8pm.

Stuart Dark, chairman of the children’s services committee, said: “The Great Yarmouth session is our final consultation event about our proposed early childhood and family support service.

“We have been gathering the views of people across the county, which will be really valuable in shaping our final proposals.”

Consultation, at https://norfolk.citizenspace.com/consultation/childrenscentres-2, closes on Monday, November 12.

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