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Havering Council’s cabinet has agreed to merge 13 children’s centre sites into six locations.

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The committee agreed on Wednesday night to transfer services from some of the less used centres to one of the main centres in the borough later this year.

It expects to make savings of more than £137,000 a year by making these changes.

The centres which will remain are: Collier Row; St Kilda; Rainham Village; Elm Park; Ingrebourne; and Chippenham Road.

Labour group leader, Cllr Keith Darvill (Heaton), said during the meeting: “We are not happy about these proposals at all. I don’t think it’s particularly good value in the long run.”

Cllr Michael Deon Burton (Independent Residents’ Association, South Hornchurch), added: “I’m not entirely confident with this one. It might be slightly short sighted. The cutting of this provision affects the easy access for residents to services.”

But Cllr Paul Rochford, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “I am confident what we are doing is the right thing.”

The council said staff numbers will not be affected, and it will make savings by cutting the running costs of the buildings. A public consultation was held between last October and January.

Cllr Rochford said after the meeting: “We have had to look at how we run our children’s centres to ensure we can protect them for the future, allowing us to continue to support the most vulnerable families in the borough.

“This will help to save over £130,000 each year by reducing running costs but not cutting services which we know local families rely on. Parents will still be able to use any of the centres and we will continue our outreach work with vulnerable families.”

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