Ipswich: Borough councillors urge county council to keep Meredith Road children’s centre open as consultation nears an end

Nursery rated as Outstanding by Ofsted inspectors

Nursery rated as Outstanding by Ofsted inspectors - Credit: PA

An Ipswich Borough councillor has said closing a popular children’s centre in a deprived area of the town would be “crazy”.

Steve Connelly represents Whitton ward, home to Meredith Road children’s centre, and was one of nine councillors who wrote to this paper urging Suffolk County Council to keep it open.

SCC is reviewing how it runs children’s centres with several under threat of closure to help cut costs, including Meredith Road. A 12-week consultation on the proposal ends on October 16.

Mr Connelly and his eight colleagues (Carole Jones, Julian Gibbs and Colin Kreidewolf from Westgate ward, Sophie Meudec and Hugh Whittall from Whitton ward and Albert Grant, Colin Wright and Martin Goonan from Whitehouse ward) highlighted a number of issues which would arise if Meredith Road was closed.

Chief among their concerns is the nearest alternative centre being just under 1.5miles away in Chevallier Street.

“There’s a difference between going down to the Meredith Road Centre, which is maybe a 10 minute walk, to walking all the way down Norwich Road to Wellington (children’s centre),” Mr Connelly said. “The distance just makes it a crazy suggestion.”

He added that “a centre at that end of the town” needed to be retained.

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“(There is) a very, very strong feeling that it needs to stay open,” Mr Connelly said. “It is one of the most deprived areas in Ipswich.”

His comments were echoed by fellow Whitton councillor Sophie Meudec.

She said: “It is essential for the centre to remain open because this is a point for parents to meet and get unbiased advice without being charged and that is the purpose of the children’s centre.”

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We strongly value the good work carried out by our children’s centres and the services they provide.

“The intention is not that families living in the Whitton area travel to the Wellington (centre); we would continue to use the rooms in Meredith Health Centre and provide services at other suitable community venues available in Whitton.”

To have your say on the proposals visit www.suffolk.gov.uk and search for consultations.