Children’s centres saved from closure

THURROCK Council will not be closing six children’s centres it was announced on Wednesday (9 November) evening.

The council’s cabinet heard that over 500 people and organisations had taken part in the council’s consultation earlier in the year, a consultation which considered closing six centres.

Cllr Barbara Rice, portfolio holder for Children’s Social Care and Health, said she was “pleased to say that following a robust consultation” she was proposing a recommendation “which will provide Sure Start early offer of help on all but two of our centres”.

She explained that the children’s centres at Tilbury, Thameside, Aveley, Ockendon, and Stanford would continue to be run by the council.

A further four centres — Chadwell St Mary, West Thurrock (covering the whole West Thurrock and South Stifford ward), Chafford Hundred, and East Tilbury — will be “commissioned out”.

She said: “There should be no adverse impact on the provision of services, in fact we would be seeking to improve on current delivery.

The centres at South Stifford, Abbots Hall, Horndon-on-the-Hill, and Purfleet are to be changed to early education and childcare/information delivery only.

Cllr Rice said there were limited services — and limited take-up of services — already from these centres and an outreach system will be put in place to ensure “provision will be offered to those in need of targeted support”.

Finally alternative uses for much needed early education sites are proposed at the remaining two centres in Little Thurrock (Deneholm Primary) and Grays (Quarry Hill Primary).

The changes aim to move towards a focus on services to support children and families who need it most.

In conclusion, Cllr Rice said the proposals should “provide a non-stigmatising and equitable early offer of help”, and ensure services are provided to those who need them most and support for parents will be strengthened.

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