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Children's centre in Southchurch may yet be saved
CHEERS rang out as it was revealed the closure of a well-used children’s centre in Southchurch could still be reversed.
Every member of Southend Council will have a chance to debate the closure of Hamstel Children’s Centre in Hamstel Road - and councillors could force the authority’s Tory cabinet to make the decision again.
A cross-party group of councillors criticised the closure, which will save £66,500 over two years, on Tuesday evening and referred it the full council.
Members from every party lined up to denounce the plans, which would see many of the purpose-built centre’s services being offered from Temple Sutton Children’s Centre and other “satellite” centres, such as the St Luke’s Health Centre, in Pantile Avenue, as a “crime”.
Councillor Barry Goodwin, who was a governor of Hamstel Infant School, which is on the same site, until earlier this year, gave a passionate speech to the people scrutiny committee, which was greeted with applause from members and the public gallery.
The Lib Dem councillor for Leigh, said: “It’s a crime if we shut this centre and merge it with Temple Sutton.
“This is not right.
“We are here for the residents of this town, to make sure they are fit to go to school aged four.”
But the cabinet, which chose to close the centre last month despite calls from the people scrutiny committee to rethink the plan, is unlikely to back down on the plan, which it says is necessary to balance the authority’s books in the face of dwindling Government funding.
James Courtenay, councillor responsible for children and learning, said: “I do have sympathy with colleagues in the people scrutiny committee but no other viable alternatives have come forward.
“It’s not a decision we want to make, but it’s one we have to make.”
The full council meeting will take place in public at 6.30pm next Thursday
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