'I would not be here today' - councillor pays homage to children's centres as Town Council objects to closure proposals
PUBLISHED: 15:52 31 October 2018
Emotional tributes to the work of Thetford's two children's centres provided the backdrop for a council's unanimous objection to the proposals to shut both.
Norfolk County Council is consulting on the future of children’s services in the county, with both of Thetford’s children’s centres, at Drake Primary School and Kingsway, under threat of closure if the proposals go ahead.
Jane James, Thetford Town Councillor for the Castle ward, was in tears as she paid homage to the work of the centres at a full council meeting on Tuesday.
Mrs James credited the centres with saving her life and paid tribute to their work helping people from all walks of life, including those who suffer from post-natal depression.
She said: “It is not just deprivation that these people deal with. It is reasonably sane, well-educated women who suffer from post-natal depression.
“If it was not for the support that I received from the people, from the health visitors, and from the Home Start charity, I would not be here today.”
Councillors criticised the county’s argument that church halls and community centres could be used to provide the service the current centres do, pointing to specialist equipment and facilities available at the Kingsway centre.
Terry Jermy, who is a county, district, and town councillor, put forward a motion to object to the proposals, which received unanimous backing from his fellow town councillors.
He said: “Norfolk County Council rely on other buildings being available but there was no other buildings listed. They have not done a proper review.”
He added: “The current delivery model is working. The centres are reaching 75pc or more of their target audience. How many other council services can show that success?
“We might save £5m by cutting children’s centres but the cost later in life is huge.”
Mark Robinson, district and town councillor, said: “We have pieces of Thetford that are within the top 10pc of deprivation. That puts us on par with Tower Hamlets and Moss Side, totally different communities to a rural town in Norfolk.
“Too often we sit on the periphery of county but they have got to target their financial resources where need is greatest. I would suggest the need is greatest for some of our residents.”
The consultation on the proposed closures can be found at https://norfolk.citizenspace.com/consultation/childrenscentres-2/