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Hours slashed at Basildon's children's centres in bid to save millions
5:00pm Thursday 16th January 2014 in Echo News
CHILDREN’S centre services in Basildon are to be scaled back, despite hundreds of objections.
Hours will be slashed at six centres across the borough, with two groups set to close down and move into a former home for problematic teenagers – sparking local outrage.
Essex County Council’s cabinet will vote on the proposals next week, which are recommended for approval.
If passed it will save £2.5million from its children’s centre budget.
Councillors are looking to press ahead despite more than 70 per cent of people opposing the plans in a consultation.
Both Laindon Park Children’s Centre and the Hills Children’s Centre, both of which are currently operates from the All About Children’s Centre in Basildon, will close down and move into The Limes, in New Century Road.
The building is a former home for troubled teens and Basildon councillors claim it has blighted resident’s lives for years.
Basildon Tory councillor John Dornan, who represents Laindon Park, said: “This is just typical from County Hall, with them having no foresight as they closed the original Limes because of budget issues.
“They have got no consideration for the residents down there and I’m absolutely appalled. It’s on a busy junction and these residents have had issues for years. If Basildon Council was the planning authority we would reject it.
“Where have the local county councillors been with this? They said they were going to hold County Hall to account but they’ve been pointless.”
Last year, the Echo revealed the Triangle Children’s Centre, in Ivron Hill Road, Wickford, is the fourth best used facility in the county, with just under 1,000 youngsters through its doors over two months.
Under the plans it will have its hours cut from 45 to 10.
County Hall insists savings will come from reduced running costs of the buildings.
Councillor Dick Madden, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We have actively worked with our children's centre providers to make sure the impact these proposals have on services is kept to a minimum.
“I truly believe that this new, flexible way of working, which focuses on services rather than sites, will mean that the children's centre staff will be able to provide the services that families need and want."
County Hall could not give the Echo a cost breakdown of how much its public consultation on the centre cost.
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