One of Melton’s threatened children’s centres could be saved in revised council plans

The Edge in Melton, venue for one of the children's centres which could be closed by the county council to streamline family support services EMN-180522-164136001
The Edge in Melton, venue for one of the children's centres which could be closed by the county council to streamline family support services EMN-180522-164136001
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Hopes have been raised that one of the three Melton children’s centres threatened with closure will be saved.

Leicestershire County Council planned to close the services, which support disadvantaged families in the town, at The Cove, in Sysonby Street, The Edge, on Dalby Road, and Fairmead, on Drummond Walk, and create a single hub venue at Venture House, on Asfordby Road, to save money.

It would have meant closing 25 of the 40 support buildings across Leicestershire but the authority has announced it now plans to invest a further £2million into the services to keep six centres open, including The Edge.

The proposals were made following a three-month public consultation into plans to create a new Family Wellbeing Service, amalgamating children’s centres, supporting Leicestershire Families (SLF), Youth Offending Service (YOS) and Information, Support and Assessment teams into one new-style service.

Nearly 800 responses were made with the vast majority being about the children’s centres, which provide health and learning support to families for pre-school children, particularly for babies, younger children and parents who need additional help and assistance.

Cabinet members at County Hall will discuss whether to go ahead with the new proposals at a meeting on Friday July 6.

Councillor Ivan Ould, cabinet member for children and families, said: “People value their children’s centres - and we’ve always recognised that some people will be affected by the proposals.

“That’s why we’ve listened to what they have had to say and we are earmarking more money.

“We face significant funding challenges and merging ‘early help’ services enables us to bring down costs by reducing duplication.

“But we’re committed to helping families who need the most support.

“This extra investment offsets the government’s ‘troubled families’ fund we’re expecting to end, reducing the impact on vulnerable people.”

The extra £2million investment will come from the extra funds coming in from a 5.99 per cent Council Tax rise this year.

If approved at the meeting, it will mean The Edge will stay open, along with children’s centres at Shelthorpe (Loughborough), Bagworth, Moira, Braunstone and Barwell.

The planned new hub at Venture House would still open as planned under the revised proposals, with the new set-up to start from next spring.

The council says setting up the new Family Wellbeing Service would reduce costs by £1.5million.

If possible, the 19 buildings no longer needed across the county, including at The Cove and Fairmead, would be used by other groups such as nurseries.

Councillor Ould added: “I want to thank all those people who took the trouble to contribute to the consultation, and we have tried to address many of the concerns expressed in the feedback.”