Bid to delay children’s centre changes fails

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A last ditch attempt by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors at Warwickshire County Council to delay controversial changes to children’s centre services in Warwickshire has failed.

Earlier this month the council agreed a redesign of children’s centre services, which is likely to see a large number closed across the county.

Many of the remaining centres will become children and family centres, serving those aged 0-19, a move criticised as a watering down of actual children’s centre services for 0-5-year-olds.

The ruling conservative group say the need to shave £1.2million from the children’s centre budget has been the motivation for the changes, but the plan has gone down badly with many parents in Warwickshire.

On Wednesday the Labour group made a last attempt to delay the implementation of the changes from 2018/2019 to 2019/2020 by requesting a one-off payment of £1.12 million from the council’s reserves to be spent on maintaining the service.

However despite the efforts of a number of speakers at the meeting, the motion was defeated.

Cllr Richard Chattaway, leader of the Labour group at WCC and proposer of the motion, said: “To be honest I was very disappointed that the motion was defeated especially after the excellent arguments put forward by both Labour and Liberal Democrat members about the consultation process. This was an opportunity for the conservatives to think again but sadly it did seem that they were clearly whipped on this issue and I think they are putting politics above Warwickshire’s young people.

“We will put forward a similar motion to this at the budget in February and show exactly how it would be funded. Warwickshire County Council has reserves of around £131million, it is not their money, it is from the taxpayer and should be spent on providing services.”

The council’s changes to children’s centre services are scheduled to be implemented by October 2019.