A public consultation will be launched into controversial plans to close three Melton centres which support vulnerable families and replace them with a single ‘hub’ venue.
Leicestershire Council wants to save £1.5 million by reorganising family support services by reducing support buildings across the county from 40 to just 15.
And members of the cabinet yesterday (Tuesday) backed a move to consult the public on the proposals, which would see five hubs created - including one at Venture House in Melton - and 10 outreach centres.
If the plans are approved following the consultation it would mean the end of family services being provided at children’s centres at The Cove, in Sysonby Street, The Edge, on Dalby Road, and Fairmead, on Drummond Walk.
The meeting was told that eight full time jobs would be lost across Leicestershire, a third of the workforce currently delivering these services, and it was calculated that 290 fewer vulnerable families would receive support across the county.
Councillor Pam Posnett, who represents the Melton East ward at County Hall, told the meeting: “I have always been a great supporter of these children’s centres and they do an absolutely wonderful job.
“When I first heard about these plans I thought it would be difficult to support them.
“But because we are putting it out to consultation and seeking the views of the public I am happy to support this today.”
A 12-week public consultation will now be held, starting later this month, with the results reported back to the cabinet in the summer before any decision is taken on whether to go ahead with the proposals.
The council currently provides four different areas of support - children’s centres, Supporting Leicestershire Families (SLF), the Youth Offending Service (YOS) and information, support and assessment teams.
These would be consolidated into a new ‘one-stop- shop’ arrangement to be called a Family Wellbeing Service. If adopted, the new set-up would start from the spring of 2019.
As well as Melton, the other ‘hubs’ for the new Family Wellbeing Service would be at Loughborough, Hinckley, Wigston and Coalville.
Outreach centres would be at Earl Shilton, Shepshed, Thurmaston, Lutterworth, Market Harborough, Huncote, Castle Donington, Measham, Loughborough, Coalville.
Councillor Ivan Ould, cabinet lead member for children and family services at County Hall, said before today’s meeting: “More work is required to develop a new approach, but joining up our prevention work in this way would enable us to provide a range of specialist, tailored support to the most vulnerable families across Leicestershire.
“Clearly, the proposed new service would target support at those who most need it, so we’re committed to understanding fully the impact before any changes are made.
“Children’s services across the country are under huge strain, with the Local Government Association estimating a £2bn national funding gap by 2020.
“The growing pressure on our budget means we need to reduce early help costs and deliver services differently.”