A popular Melton children’s centre has this afternoon (Friday) been saved from closure but councillors have decided to close two others in the town because of a shortage of funds to keep them going.
Leicestershire County Council’s cabinet agreed to keep open The Edge, on Dalby Road, but The Cove, on Sysonby Street, and Fairmead, on Drummond Walk, will be closed next spring.
All three were initally set to be closed by the council in a bid to save £1.5million but following a three-month consultation it was proposed to keep open The Edge and five others across the county with new investment of £2million.
Today’s decision also provides for five new hubs for a Family Wellbeing Service, amalgamating a number of different family services, with one of them set to be at Venture House in Melton.
Councillor Pam Posnett, one of the Melton representatives at County Hall, told today’s meeting she was concerned about the loss of The Cove because it was popular and in a more accessible location for users than the planned new centre at Venture House.
But she said: “I’m pleased to see today’s report bears no relation to the initial recommendations about children’s centres.
“County council officers have clearly listened to people at the consultation and ensured there is an ongoing presence of services in Melton.
“The only people who attended the consultation were from The Edge and that is reflected in the report.
“I do welcome the new Family Wellbeing Service.”
The service will bring together children’s centres, supporting Leicestershire Families (SLF), Youth Offending Service (YOS) and Information, Support and Assessment teams into one new-style service.
A report given to the meeting stated that nearly 800 responses were made to the consultation 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.
Councillor Ivan Ould said he reluctantly moved the recommendations because he said the early intervention work done by staff at the centres reduced issues for families at a later stage.
He said: “If we have to make further cuts to these services in future it would be probably to close all the centres unless our financial situation improves.”
The extra £2million investment will come from the extra funds coming in from a 5.99 per cent Council Tax rise this year.
If possible, the 19 buildings no longer needed across the county, including at The Cove and Fairmead, will be used by other groups such as nurseries.
More to follow.