Children’s centres could be closed

Derbyshire County Hall
Derbyshire County Hall

Cash-strapped Derbyshire County Council bosses are considering closing around seven children’s centres in a bid to save £1.1 million a year.

Government cuts mean the Labour-run authority must save £157 million by 2018.

The council runs 54 children’s centres, including in Cotmanhay, Kirk Hallam and West Hallam, costing £8 million a year, which bosses say must be reduced to £6.9m.

The council unveiled five options: charging parents for using centres; charging organisations for using the buildings; reducing staffing levels; closing about seven centres (depending on size and running costs) and sending parents to services offered by the voluntary, community and independent sector.

A report to county council cabinet members said the ‘most realistic option to save £1.1million’ was to close about seven children centres.

Play groups, advice sessions, childcare and support for parents and carers are on offer at all five of Erewash’s children’s centres.

It has not been decided yet which centres could face the axe but a further three month consultation will take place before any suggestions are put forward to the cabinet.

Councillors agreed last week that a five-week general consultation can take place starting from tomorrow.

Council leader Anne Western said: “This is an impossible situation forced upon us by the Coalition Government.

“We are faced with making devastating cuts to our services.

“It will have a very significant and detrimental impact on vulnerable people and on the local economy. We really don’t want to make these devastating cuts – we don’t relish this at all.

“We’re facing massive financial pressures like never before and that means we’ve got some difficult decisions to make. We don’t want to cut any services but we have no choice.”