Concern has been raised over proposals to streamline Childrens’ Centres in Suffolk which could see the closure of Jigsaw in Thurston.
The early years child provision is being examined as part of a cost saving measure and Suffolk County Council has put forward proposals which go out to public consultation from Monday.
While centres in Bury St Edmunds and Forest Heath are unaffected the county is looking to save £2.9m by merging services elsewhere. It is also conducting a review of staffing in children’s services.#
Jigsaw in the grounds of Thurston Commmunity College would be merged with Bluebells which operates at Stanton Primary School some 3.6 miles away. A report to councillors states that the current centre is small and can only offer a limited range of services.
Lib Dem spokesperson for education, skills and young people, Penny Otton who also represents Thurston on Mid Suffolk District Council said: “A lot of people rely on transport and there is no way for people to get from Thurston and the surrounding areas to Stanton.
These centres are an opportunity for mums and parents to sit and talk with other parents.
“The irony is that the council is honed in on improving children’s school attainments but that needs to be early on. I’m not in favour and cannot see any evidence to justify this.”
Sandy Martin, Labour group leader said: “The location of children’s centres is absolutely crucial. It is not a service we’d expect people to travel long distances to. Parents most in need of services are the ones least likely to travel long distances. The entire programme is misconceived and ill thought out and we will be fighting it all the way.
Nicola Miller, Editor of Suffolk Mumsnet said: ““Mumsnetters locally fear that centralising Children’s Centres services will once again impact negatively upon the most vulnerable- those without transport in outlying villages and towns poorly served by transport networks, which themselves have seen drastic cuts over the last few years.”
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “We are currently in negotiation with the school and the library regarding the future use of the centre. We urge the local community to put forward their views during the consultation,”