Ipswich: Parents’ fury at proposal to axe children’s centres. What do you think?

The Long Toddle. Children and parents from Quayside children's centre join supporters and local coun

The Long Toddle. Children and parents from Quayside children's centre join supporters and local councillors to highlight the proposed closure of the centre. - Credit: Lucy taylor

Angry parents are demanding Suffolk County Council scrap plans to axe their children’s centre.

Children and parents from Quayside children's centre join supporters and local councillors to highli

Children and parents from Quayside children's centre join supporters and local councillors to highlight the proposed closure of the centre. - Credit: Lucy taylor

Protesters have said 700 people have now signed a petition calling for Quayside Children Centre, near University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich, to be saved.

Mum of two-year-old Riaz, Shelly Darwin, said the council wanted to close the centre which would mean parents would have to travel to the next nearest one – around one-and-a-half miles away.

The council, argues it needs to save £156million – part of which will be done by closing nine of the current 48 children’s centres in the county.

Parents staged a protest walk from Quayside to the nearest centre, which will stay open, Chatterbox.

Ms Darwin, 28, said parents were “up in arms” over the issue.

She said: “There is a real strength of feeling about Quayside closing. We had the walk to show that moving services from Quayside to Chatterbox is too far, it’s taken 45 minutes to walk which shows it’s not doable.

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“Children deserve to have access to services locally; the council has claimed they are merging services, but they are not merging they are closing centres.

“Closing the centre will mean children, parents, families and the community will lose out; our children deserve a centre that we are able to access. People are upset and angry about losing the centre that we love.”

Gordon Jones, Suffolk’s cabinet member for children’s services, has said the council “strongly values” the work carried out by the facilities – but “precious resources” need to be focused on services that will make a “difference” and not buildings.

A council letter sent to parents when the proposed closures were announced, said: “Although we are looking to reduce the number of buildings we occupy, all parts of the county will continue to have access to children’s centres services.

“We are proposing to move some children’s centre services to different buildings alongside other like-minded services. This would both improve the services available to you and your child as well as help reduce the cost of delivering children centre services. Many services are already delivered in community venues and these will continue as they are now.”

Ms Darwin said parents would hand in the petition personally to Mr Jones on Thursday – the day the council’s consultation ends.

Labour councillors have also been protesting against the proposals

A decision is expected to be made in December. To comment on the consultation go to www.suffolk.gov.uk/consultations.

To visit the petition go to www.change.org and search for Quayside Children’s Centre. See David Ellesmere’s column on Page 6 for more.

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