Children's centre closes its doors

A MUCH-LOVED children's centre in Ipswich's Whitehouse estate has finally closed its doors after government funding cuts made it impossible to carry on.

A MUCH-LOVED children's centre in Ipswich's Whitehouse estate has finally closed its doors after government funding cuts made it impossible to carry on.

The Evening Star revealed earlier this month that the Making Tracks Centre in Ulster Avenue was set to be axed, little more than a year after opening.

The decision was made after a government cost-cutting exercise saw funding to the Suffolk Children's Fund, which finances Making Tracks, slashed by £270,000.

The Ipswich-based initiative, which has centres in three other areas - Chantry, Priory Heath and Whitton - has provided a place to go for children aged between eight and 13, offering drop-in facilities and cyber cafés with a mandate to reduce anti-social behaviour.

Making Tracks project manager Emma Horne described the closure as "very sad" but claimed the remaining three centres have received the funding which will secure their future.

She said: "After our funding was cut we had to look at the centres together and we saw that Whitehouse was the least deprived place.

Most Read

"We simply don't have the money and it does come down to that. Unfortunately, the decision had to be made because we can't pluck £30,000 out of the air to carry on.

"It's not a nice situation but on the positive side, we have the funding secured to remain with the three centres we've got and they are all thriving.

"There are a number of children who attended the centre at Whitehouse who are really keen to go along to the centre in Whitton."

Between 2002 to 2005, the average amount available from the Suffolk Children Fund was £1.71m, but between 2005 and 2008 the average funding available will be £1.44m - £270,000 less per year.

Kevin Garrod, assistant director at Ipswich Community for Voluntary Service, who administers funding on behalf of Making Tracks said: "My response to the closure is bittersweet.

"While it's always disappointing to lose a part of a project, we have to remember this is very new and as with any initiative, there are lots of things that do work and some that don't. Things are never perfect.

"The fact is that the scheme is able to continue. The other three are going from strength to strength and numbers are shooting upwards."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter