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Parents protest against plans to close children’s centres

PUBLISHED: 11:16 20 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:25 20 October 2018

Norfolk MEP Alex Mayer and Thetford councillor Terry Jermy join local Thetford residents in opposing the closure of the children's centre. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Norfolk MEP Alex Mayer and Thetford councillor Terry Jermy join local Thetford residents in opposing the closure of the children's centre. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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Placard wielding parents in Thetford have held a protest against plans to close children’s centres.

The MEP for the East of England, Alex Mayer was amongst those who joined parents at the Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford on Friday to back their call for Norfolk County Council to scrap plans to close 46 children’s centres across the county.

The public is being asked for their views over the proposals to shut down 46 of 53 children’s centres, with drop-in events taking place in Norwich, Dereham, Cromer, King’s Lynn, Wymondham and Great Yarmouth.

The protest in Thetford saw parents and campaigners hold their own consultation meeting to discuss the impact of the proposed closures that would also affect services in the Breckland town.

Mother Kate Bradley, who was amongst those keen to add her voice to the debate, aid: “I just think it is really important that we save the Sure Start centres especially in an area like Thetford which probably benefits from them more than other areas.

“It is quite a deprived area and I think it is somewhere that people need more help and peer support so that you can actually meet with other mothers.

“For myself I found it very useful to find out lots of information. I think it is a valued commodity and if it is taken away from us it won’t be replaced.”

Norfolk MEP Alex Mayer and Thetford councillor Terry Jermy met with concerned parents in Thetford. Picture: Neil DidsburyNorfolk MEP Alex Mayer and Thetford councillor Terry Jermy met with concerned parents in Thetford. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Alex Mayer MEP said: “Parents were pretty much united in thinking that it is a bad idea to close both the children’s centres in Thetford. Also the idea that you can just turn up in a village hall and provide the same services they didn’t think was correct. Currently you might go along for one thing but find out about other services where if it was more broken up that wouldn’t happen.”

Thetford councillor Terry Jermy said the protest was a chance for local parents to find out more about the proposals and submit their views on the council’s official consultation.

“This is an information sharing opportunity,” he said. “Myself as a county councillor obviously at some point I am going to have to vote on whether or not we go ahead with the closure of these children’s centres. I want to hear from parents and from staff what that means.”

A drop-in open public consultation event about the planned changes is being held by Norfolk County Council at Thetford Guildhall on October 26 from 2pm-4pm. The consultation closes on November 12.

Councillor Stuart Dark, chairman of the children’s services committee, said the council can better support families by delivering services in local communities and providing online help “rather than spending our money on running and maintaining buildings.”

More information about drop-in events around Norfolk and an online consultation can be found at Norfolk Citizen

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