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Invitation made in effort to save children’s centre from cuts

PUBLISHED: 15:35 24 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:35 24 December 2018

Parents and children take part in a Musical Keys session at Diss children's centre. Picture: Bethany Whymark

Parents and children take part in a Musical Keys session at Diss children's centre. Picture: Bethany Whymark

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Councillor Keith Kiddie has said that while some children’s centres are wasting money on building upkeep, the custom built Diss Children’s Centre deserves to be saved from potential cuts.

The chairman of Norfolk children’s services has been invited to a South Norfolk town in a bid to promote its children’s centre, which may close under council cuts.

County Councillor Keith Kiddie invited Councillor Stuart Dark to Diss Children’s Centre following a request from Diss Town Council in November.

Forty-six of Norfolk’s 53 centres could be closed following a review of the service, with just seven remaining bases in each county district. Council bosses said it will bring services out of buildings and into the community, yet the proposals have attracted widespread criticism.

Mr Kiddie said: “I was asked whether I could have some effect on the consultation for the Diss Children’s Centre and to that end I have engaged very closely with Councillor Dark.

Diss Infant and Nursery School with Children's Centre is one of dozens of centres that may close following Norfolk County Council proposals. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYDiss Infant and Nursery School with Children's Centre is one of dozens of centres that may close following Norfolk County Council proposals. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I will be with him to escort him around, so he will have a very clear view as to what Diss Children’s Centre is. It’s most important that he actually comes and sees what we have in Diss and the facilities that are provided there.”

Mr Kiddie is keeping the date of the visit secret, but he confirmed it will be in the first week of January. Diss Children’s Centre will switch management from Diss Infants School to Action for Children on January 1.

He said: “From my perspective the children’s centre in Diss is a custom-made building that is relatively new, and it’s in an urban area where there’s a lot of people around it.

“It makes sense to look at that and make sure that the people making the decisions, whatever way it goes, get a fair evaluation. Councillor Dark will go away fully informed in his decision.”

Diss and Roydon county councillor Keith Kiddie has invited the chairman of children's services to Diss Children's Centre Picture by: Sonya DuncanDiss and Roydon county councillor Keith Kiddie has invited the chairman of children's services to Diss Children's Centre Picture by: Sonya Duncan

However Mr Kiddie said he remains behind any council decision. He added: “The cost of running children’s centres at the moment is about £10m. The problem is a lot of these centres are in very old buildings and quite a lot of them may not be in the most appropriate place, but people tend to get very tied to the place and not necessarily the service. There is more than one way to develop a service.

“The time has come for a review and evaluation to see if the county council are getting the best value for money and best service. We want to use the money on the children not running an antiquated building. Everybody wants value for money don’t they?”

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