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Kids' centre closure attacked by all sides
A CROSS-PARTY set of councillors have called on Tory leaders to rethink the closure of a well-used children’s centre.
Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and Independent councillors criticised plans to close Hamstel Children’s Centre, in Southchurch, to save £67,000.
They spoke out at Southend Council’s people scrutiny committee and urged Tory cabinet members to keep it open when they consider the proposal again.
Ric Morgan, Independent councillor for Prittlewell, told the scrutiny committee: “It is the most crass false economy and you will regret it in future when you have to deal with the problems you could have avoided.”
Sally Carr, Conservative councillor for St Luke’s, said: “I don’t agree you should have looked at children’s centres whatsoever.
“In any case you should have looked on a needs basis or a user basis.
“If you had, you’d never have thought of closing Hamstel or Temple Sutton children’s centres.”
Anne Jones, Labour councillor for Kursaal, said: “Children’s centres do wonderful things with a small amount of money. We shouldn’t be closing children’s centres.”
Lib Dem leader Graham Longley said officers were being forced to recommend cuts to meet the budget set by the Tory administration.
He said: “Officers are being put in an intolerable position. They are having to cover the Tories’ backsides.”
But Conservative James Courtenay, councillor for children and learning, hit back, saying critics had failed to come up with an alternative way to make savings and balance the budget.
Referring to a suggestion to raise £55,000 by increasing council tax by 4p a week for band D properties, Mr Courtenay said: “It’s a sticking plaster that would have only delayed the merger of children’s centres.”
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