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Closure of children’s centres would be ‘catastrophic’, claim Norwich City Council leaders

PUBLISHED: 10:43 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:40 27 September 2018

City councillor Karen Davis. Pic: Stuart Goodman.

City councillor Karen Davis. Pic: Stuart Goodman.

Archant

Closing all but seven children’s centres in Norfolk would be “catastrophic”, city council leaders have warned.

Forty-six of 53 children’s centres could be closed after Norfolk County Council bosses revealed proposals for a review of the service.

Seven of the existing children’s centres would remain as bases in each district of the county, but County Hall bosses say it will bring services out of buildings and into the community.

In February, the county council halved the budget for children’s centres from £10m to £5m, with the contracts for the 12 current providers of the services coming to an end next year.

Consultation over the possible closures of the centres is under way, but, at a meeting of Norwich City Council this week, city councillors said they would give “robust views” on the consultation.

Karen Davis, cabinet member for social inclusion, said: “The impact to the whole of Norfolk, not just Norwich, will be catastrophic. Just one centre will remain to serve the whole of the Norwich area.

“Children’s centres are essential services run by highly qualified staff who are trained to look for attachment issues, to monitor milestones in your child’s development, to spot hidden signs of abuse.

“They also signpost to advice services - including benefits, housing, foodbanks and charities which can provide furniture and white goods.

“Children’s centres are as much support for whole families as they are for children. Community and peer support - parents meeting in each other’s houses - is not necessarily a safe and supportive environment.”

She said the council would give “robust views on the consultation”. City Hall’s scrutiny committee will help to draw up the council’s response to the consultation.

They say the proposed new service is just one part of a wider programme, which will help families earlier and target those in the most need.

The consultation, which runs until November 9, is at www.norfolk.gov.uk/childrenscentres

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