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Last chance for Norfolk residents to have their say on children’s centre closures

PUBLISHED: 14:05 07 November 2018

Members of Norfolk County Council at Great Yarmouth Library. Picture: Abigail Nicholson

Members of Norfolk County Council at Great Yarmouth Library. Picture: Abigail Nicholson

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More than 1,000 Norfolk residents have taken part in a consultation to have their say on council plans to close 46 children’s centres.

Norwich South MP, Clive Lewis and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn receive a card from one of the children at North City Children's Centre. Picture: Neil DidsburyNorwich South MP, Clive Lewis and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn receive a card from one of the children at North City Children's Centre. Picture: Neil Didsbury

The consultation comes after council bosses revealed proposals to close 46 of the 53 children’s centres in Norfolk.

Just seven of the existing children’s centres would remain open, but council bosses say it will bring services out of buildings and into the community.

During a visit to the North City Children’s Centre, head of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn said: “I think the idea you would close one [a children’s centre] is not just sad, it is disastrous.”

A public consultation has been launched by the council, asking the public for their opinion on matters that are affecting them.

The outside of Great Yarmouth Library. where the children's centre consultation took place. Picture: Abigail NicholsonThe outside of Great Yarmouth Library. where the children's centre consultation took place. Picture: Abigail Nicholson

A mother-of-one, who attended the consultation drop-in session at Great Yarmouth Library, said: “I don’t know where I would be without the children’s centres, they gave me a safe space to come to with my baby when times got hard.

“If the centres do end up closing, I worry about new mothers because I have used this service every week since my baby was born.

“The centres helped me by bringing together mothers in the same situation as me, we now talk all the time.”

In February, Norfolk County Council agreed that the budget for children’s centres would be halved from £10m to £5m, with the contracts for the 12 current providers of the services coming to an end next year.

The council says schools, village halls, libraries and other buildings would be used to provide the services people currently get at children’s centres.

The seven centres which would remain, as bases for outreach services if the proposals go through, are City and Eaton Children’s Centre in Norwich, Drayton and Taverham Children’s Centre, St Clement’s Children’s Centre in Terrington St Clement, Attleborough Children’s Centre, Long Stratton Children’s Centre, Seagulls Children’s Centre in Great Yarmouth and Holt Children’s Centres.

The 46 others would cease to operate as children’s centres, but council bosses said they could still be used by other providers to run services for children and families.

Take part in the children’s centres consultation at www.norfolk.gov.uk/childrenscentres

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