Seven groups protest at Council meeting over children's centre plans

Councillor Ralph Berry

Councillor Ralph Berry

First published in Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , City Hall Reporter

Protesters from across the district descended on City Hall to call for a re-think on proposed cuts to children’s centres.

Seven separate groups spoke out against the plans at a meeting of the full Council yesterday, with each handing in a petition.

The Bradford Council proposals set out how the centres would operate in future in a bid to save £2.4 million.

Under the plans, the centres would be divided into three categories – core centres which would run as they are now, satellite centres which would be staffed on a part-time basis, and outreach bases which would be run by volunteers.

Many of those earmarked for a downgrade are in the district’s wealthier areas. But objectors said it would be wrong to assume that better-off parents didn’t need support.

The Rev Chris Upton spoke on behalf of those opposed to the downgrading of Treetops Children’s Centre in Haworth.

He said that “far from being a nice place for young mummies to swap hummus recipes”, the centre helped parents combat feelings of isolation among other serious matters.

He said: “If a single child is placed on the child protection register, it costs £40,000 per child. Put simply, a stitch in time saves nine.”

Joanne Telfer, speaking up for Baildon Children’s Centre, said: “Cuts should be made across all centres. This would mean that whole areas would not be devastated.”

All the petitions were accepted by the Council to be considered as part of the consultation process.

The meeting also heard that the district’s children’s centres had been offered a £3 million boost from Bradford’s Schools Forum.

Councillor Ralph Berry said this week the Schools Forum had agreed to allocate the money from its budget to support children’s centres, but the move would have to be approved by the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove.

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