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Childrens centre saved
6:00am Saturday 19th October 2013 in Echo News
A CHILDREN’S centre has been saved after Southend Council found new funding to keep it going.
Hamstel Children’s Centre in Southend was due to merge with Temple Sutton Children’s Centre next April, but the council has found an extra £224,000 to save it from the axe.
James Courtenay, Southend councillor responsible for children and learning, confirmed the centre has been saved at the latest full council meeting tonight.
The centre was one of three children’s centres set to be closed as part of cost-cutting measures.
Mr Courtenay said: “My primary concern, when delivering the council’s required savings has always been to do so with the least impact possible on children and families.
“I have listened carefully to the views of providers, residents, members and most importantly those who use children’s centres – parents and carers.
“Despite every effort to make a saving through merging Hamstel and Temple Sutton, whilst maintaining adequate services there; I share the concerns that the impact on children in this area of high deprivation and need is too great.”
The council has been able to save the centre, which is the second largest in the borough and provides health and social support to a host of families, after getting an increase in its public health budget.
About £64,500 of this, together with savings made on the merger of two other children’s centres, has allowed the council to save £224,000 - enough to keep Hamstel open.
Mr Courtenay added: “I am delighted to be able to report this innovative solution – allowing us to act on members’ and residents’ concerns – retaining more services across the town, ensuring we are focusing on those most in need, whilst still finding a way to achieve the savings required, accepting and delivering on my responsibility to ensure this council delivers a balanced budget.”
Despite the announcement on Hamstel, plans to merge Darlinghurst children’s centre with the Blenheim Centre in Leigh or the merger of Shoebury children’s centre with nearby Friars are still set to go ahead.
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