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No clear evidence' for Cambridge children's centre cuts

Shirehall, Cambridge . Picture Keith Heppell
Shirehall, Cambridge . Picture Keith Heppell

The city council has formally responded to the county's proposed closure of four children's centres in the city.

Cambridge City Council has formally responded to a public consultation on Cambridgeshire County Council’s proposed review of children’s centre services in the county, which includes the potential closure of four children’s centres in Cambridge.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Cambridge City Council’s executive councillor for communities, has sent a letter to the county council after listening to the views of local people, which outlines the city council’s formal response to proposals.

Cllr Johnson said: “I acknowledge the financial pressure that Cambridgeshire County Council, like all local authorities, is under due to reductions in central grant funding from Government.

“Nevertheless it is paramount that the needs of families and children are met in the city.

“I fully understand why many people are alarmed at the potential closure of children’s centres in Cambridge at Fawcett, Homerton, Romsey Mill and Cherry Hinton, and the likely impact this may have on local communities, particularly those areas of higher need.

“Given the lack of a clear and robust evidence base to justify the proposals, the public may conclude that the suggested closure of centres, and absence of information as to how services will be provided if those centres close, will ultimately have a negative impact on those families and children who currently use them.

“As a result, more information should be made available to decision makers before a final judgement is made by councillors on these proposals – to either accept, amend or reject them completely.”

In his letter, Cllr Johnson speaks for the council’s views making four main arguments:

Children’s centres play an important role in ensuring families and children in Cambridge can thrive and have the best start

There is a lack of clear evidence in the consultation paper to support the rationale for the proposals

The impact of the proposals on communities, groups and areas of Cambridge, in particular those with high needs, is not clear

More detail is required on how crucial services would be provided following any proposed changes before final decisions are made by county councillors.

The county council’s consultation on children’s centres ends on Friday 22 September at 12 noon. People wishing to take part can do so online.

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