Plans for future of 11 axed children’s centres revealed

Protesters against the closure of children's centres on a march through Great Yarmouth. Norfolk Coun

Protesters against the closure of children's centres on a march through Great Yarmouth. Norfolk County Council has revealed plans for 11 of the centres set for closure - but plans for the other 27 have yet to be decided. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

More nursery school places and extra library services are among the plans revealed for a network of children's centres in Norfolk.

The 11 centres are among those which Norfolk County Council voted to close in a bid to reduce its children's centres budget and move away from directly providing services through the buildings.

But a question mark still hangs over the future of the other 27 centres, which are set to shut by October this year.

Of the 11 centres for which proposals have been announced, eight will be put in the hands of schools or nursery providers:

- Watton, Spixworth and north Norwich will be used to provide more nursery places.

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- Litcham will be used by Litcham School for a reception class.

- Stalham and Trinity will be transferred to Stalham Infant School and Martham Academy respectively to modernise their nursery facilities.

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- Sprowston will transfer to the area's infant school to grow its specialist resource base (SRB) for children with autism.

- Cromer has already been transferred to Suffield Park Infant and Nursery School to meet an urgent need for more childcare places in the area.

A further three centres - in Loddon, Gorleston and Harleston - will be based in libraries and used to supplement their work with young children.

A county council spokeswoman said detailed plans for the remaining 27 centres had not yet been drawn up.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children's services at Norfolk County Council, said: "Our new early childhood and family service will be able to help more of the children and families that really need support.

"It is aimed at increasing the proportion of children achieving their developmental milestones, reducing neglect and increasing social mobility.

"We can do this by moving services out of children's centre buildings into people's homes and other community venues. In freeing up this space we can create more nursery provision, specialist school places and library space for local communities, which all fit with the aims of our new service."

The council took the controversial decision to close 38 of Norfolk's 53 children's centres in January, with 15 surviving as hubs around the county.

In their place the council promised a targeted early childhood and family service in the community for families with children aged up to five, including in libraries, village halls and people's homes.

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