Campaigners protest against Warwickshire children’s centre cuts

A campaign group held a protest outside Shire Hall, Warwick this week, against plans to cut children's centres across the county. NNL-170718-131247009
A campaign group held a protest outside Shire Hall, Warwick this week, against plans to cut children's centres across the county. NNL-170718-131247009

Numerous parents and campaigners held a protest outside the county council today (Tuesday, July 18) against plans to close 27 children’s centres across Warwickshire.

Around 30-40 people met at Shire Hall in Warwick with banners to show their concerns about the proposals to turn 12 centres into ‘family hubs’.

The campaigners from Save Warwickshire Children’s Centres met with councillors to voice their concerns after a Warwickshire County Council meeting.

One of the group’s organisers, Gemma Proctor, from Southam, said they wanted to give as many people as possible a voice to fight the plans.

“What we need to focus on is encouraging people to share their stories to us or directly to their children’s centre but mainly they need to fill in the consultation,” she said.

“It’s just about encouraging people to have their voices heard.

“If the council hears from only one area then it won’t be a good consultation and then we will be sleep walking into a service which might not be fine.”

The county council launched a consultation into the plans last month as £1.18m was cut from the children’s services budget.

Of the 39 children’s centres in Warwickshire, 12 could remain as family or community hubs offering reduced services with around 40 jobs under threat.

Councillors argue the service needs to be streamlined to make it sustainable, but campaigners think it will be unacceptably detrimental to the most vulnerable.

Rugby Borough Councillor Kieran Brown was at the protest and said the proposals are ‘an absolute disgrace’.

“The thing that upsets me the most is that these places not only provide essential services to children that the new hubs won’t be able to cover but are also a place that the wider community can go to if they need help with other issues,” he said.

“I would urge every one of the Conservative county councillors to think again before they approve these cuts.

“This is not ‘student politics’ or protest for protests sake but a real expression of anger from people who think they are being short changed.

“This is only the beginning and we will not back down over this.”

The county council is holding a number of consultation events across Warwickshire where anyone interested in the proposals can find out more.

Consultations in Rugby take place at Christ Church in Bow Fell, Brownsover, from 9.30-11am on Thursday (July 20), and at the Benn Hall in Newbold Road from 7.30-9pm on Wednesday, July 26.

In Warwick district, consultations take place in Leamington Town Hall from 9.30-11am on Tuesday, July 25.

As well as at Northgate House, Warwick, CV34 4JH, from 7.30-9pm on Monday, July 31, and at St John’s Church in Warwick Road, Kenilworth, from 7.30-9pm on Tuesday, August 1.

To complete the consultation online and for further information visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/ask.