Fight for Wells children’s centre

A working party has been formed to protect services for families with children under five who live in Wells and 35 nearby villages and hamlets.

It is made up of people who work with children and are concerned about the effect proposed changes could have on the Sure Start Children's Centre in Wells.

Members include county councillor for Wells, Dr Marie Strong, head teacher of Wells Primary School, Robert Hothersall, chairman of Polka Day Centre Richard Green and children's centres manager for several Sure Start Children's Centres including Wells, Louisa Bayley.

Norfolk County Council launched a consultation last week on the county's 54 children's centres.

The working party has held three meetings to discuss the proposals and plans to meet again in March.


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Concern has been expressed that during the consultation the voice in rural areas such as Wells won't be heard and that all of the implications of the changes are not yet clear.

Councillor Strong said: 'It is very important that all who use this service have access to the consultation and of equal importance are aware of all the practicalities.

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'It is crucial that whichever partnership is agreed all the young children and their parents continue to receive the same level of invaluable support presently provided by the Wells Centre.'

Sure Start Children's Centres are places where children under five years old and their families can receive services and information.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services, said: 'We are not planning to close any centres and want to ensure all of Norfolk's under-fives can continue to access a range of services.

'This focus has to be on identifying needs at the earliest opportunity and developing services that best fit with the needs of their community.

'We know that children's centres are really valued by Norfolk's families and we want to protect the many fantastic services they deliver to their communities.'

The county council is looking to re-design children's centres to make the most effective use of resources. It is considering opportunities for combining some centres and streamlining centre management and administration while still ensuring it delivers services to those that need them.

The council has developed a number of options and these can be seen in full detail at www.YourNorfolkYourSay.org or by contacting childrenscentrecommissioning@norfolk.gov.uk.

Alternatively you can ring Natasha Walker, strategy and commissioning project officer, on 01603 638185.

The closing date to take part in this survey is April 18 and a decision is due to be made in June.

Any changes will come into effect in April 2012.

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