Education chief tells campaigners Council will look at alternative ways of saving money

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The official opening of the Treetops children's centre in Haworth, in July 2011 The official opening of the Treetops children's centre in Haworth, in July 2011

Council bosses are going back to the drawing board over controversial cuts to children’s centres.

The authority today said it would explore alternative plans suggested by campaigners, but warned that savings would still have to be found.

Campaigners had put forward “some very creative and useful ideas” for saving money during public consultations, said executive member for children’s services Councillor Ralph Berry.

The meeting heard that a £3m one-off handout from the district’s Schools Forum – the body that represents head teachers and governors – would in effect buy them a 12-month reprieve to explore these ideas in full.

Coun Berry said: “It gives us time to do things in a much more careful way, to work through it in a much more careful way.”

The authority had proposed to save £2.4 million between 2014 and 2016 by dividing the centres 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.

The nine centres currently earmarked to become outreach bases are: Daisy Chain, Silsden; Little Lane, Ilkley; Treetops, Haworth; Trinity 5 Rise, Bingley; Bingley Rural; Baildon Sure Start Centre; Menston and Burley; Thornton, and Victoria Hall, Queensbury.

Campaigners from Ilkley, Menston and Burley, Haworth and Bingley again spoke out at the meeting to urge a re-think.

The Reverend Chris Upton, campaigning on behalf of Treetops children’s centre in Haworth, played an answer machine message through his microphone, saying that would be all that would greet parents if the changes went ahead.

Coun Berry said the Schools Forum money would give the Council time to “come up with different and better ways of protecting services as best we can”, and added that this may well see local schools playing a greater role.

He said: “They are in a sense going to become far more involved in the running of them, working with them and the shaping of these services, particularly in what you might describe as outer areas.”

But Coun Berry stressed that the Schools Forum money was a one-off for 2014-15 and savings would still have to be made the year after.

He said: “It’s money taking us forward. It’s not relief. It’s a commitment to try and come up with a new model. It doesn’t solve the problem of the year after.”

Away from the meeting, Haworth Parish Council chairman John Huxley welcomed the news.

He said: “I would hope it would give us time to get round the table and talk about what happens after the 12 months.”

He said of Treetops: “The building is connected to Haworth Primary School and that opens up some possibilities, but it’s early days yet.”

e-mail: claire.armstrong@telegraphandargus.co.uk

Comments (1)

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6:38pm Tue 4 Feb 14

allinittogether says...

Excellent news! And in 2015 we can get rid of the toxic Tory/Lib Dem government and start investing in our country again.
Excellent news! And in 2015 we can get rid of the toxic Tory/Lib Dem government and start investing in our country again. allinittogether

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