Leader of Norfolk County Council quizzed on future of Norfolk’s children’s centres

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry - Credit: Archant

The leader of Norfolk County Council has been grilled by people demanding to know more on the future of the county's children's services and special schools funding.

At an event held at the Wroxham Hotel in Hoveton on Tuesday evening, members of the public took the opportunity to hold Andrew Proctor, Conservative leader at County Hall, along with other senior council officers to account and to quiz them on a number of issues facing their communities.

Taking questions from the audience on county's children's centres, including on the public consultation and what the council's plans for the future of the centres are, Mr Proctor said around 1200 people had participated in the consultation which closed on November 12.

He said the council aimed to 'redesign services' so that they can be accessed by those who need them, and deliver out reach services which work for communities.

Taking a question from Roger Atterwill, the chairman of Swanton Morley Parish Council, over concerns about the children's services proposals, cuts to the service budget from £10m to £5m and what this would been to staffing levels, Tim Eyres, head of children's integrated commissioning responded: 'The proposals we have set out are in terms of a service which is about trying to take a new approach. The focus is on front line staff and front line support.

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'It's not buildings which make a difference, it's staff who build relationships. We want to make sure that as much of the funds that are available are for front line staff.'

Questions were also asked about the 80-page document which accompanied the online proposal form, centre closures and the maintenance costs of the buildings where many of the centres are currently based.

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Clare Male, asked about the council's long-term plan for special schools and the provision for the special educational needs support within mainstream education.

In response to her concerns, Chris Snudden, assistant director for children's services at Norfolk County Council, said: 'We want to make sure that children are educated within their communities and local schools and part of our job is to make sure that happens.'

The panel also fielded questions on The Broadland Northway and planning regulations. The event is the first of a series in which Mr Proctor, aims to outline his plans for the future of the county.

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