Havering Council considering merging children’s centres

Services at some of Havering’s smaller children’s centres could be merged into one of the borough’s six main centres as part of plans by Havering Council to save up to �170,000 a year.

Consultation over the changes are set to take place on Monday October 15 until January 2013.

Sue Butterworth, the group director of Havering’s children services said: “We want to know what parents think about these proposal.

“This is one way that we can potentially ensure that this frontline service continues for the most vulnerable families.”

The propsals will see the services held in Harold Court in Church Road, Thistledene in Thistledene Avenue, Collier Row, Pyrgo in Settle Road, Harold Hill, Upminster Library in Corbets Tey Road, South Hornchurch Library in Rainham Road, Rainham and Airfield in South End Road, Hornchurch merged into six of the council’s main centres.

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The council is also looking at closing either Hilldene Centre Children’s Centre in Straight Road, Harold Hill or Chippenham Road Children’s Centre in Chippenham Road, Harold Hill.

The council claims that the plans will allow running costs of the centres to be reduced, while families will not see further services cut.

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They will still be able to attend any children’s centres they choose and outreach work with vulnerable families across the borough will continue.

Sue said: “We are talking about very low numbers at the children centres and some of them are only open a few hours a week.

“It makes sense to merge them rather than reducing the services which will affect families.”

The council has to look at the costs of running all centres as government funding, which was used to set them up, is no longer available.

By reducing the overheads on running a high number of buildings, the council says that it will be able to make its essential savings while also focusing on protecting frontline services to families.

A final report on the proposals are due to go to the council’s cabinet meeting in February.

Cabinet Member for Children and learning, Cllr Paul Rochford said: “While we are proposing to reduce the number of buildings that services are delivered from, the six main centres will continue to provide services across the borough.

“Local families will be able to use whichever centre they wish.

“We know these are big changes and that’s why it’s vitally important that as many people affected as possible take part in our consultation.”

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