Dearne children’s centres set to go

John Healey, MP
John Healey, MP

Two Dearne children’s centres are set to be axed as part of budget cuts proposed by Rotherham Council.

Council chiefs announced their intention this week to shut Cortonwood and Wath Victoria Sure Start centres.

This is part of a wider plan to close 13 of the borough’s 22 centres, which offer play sessions and pre-school learning activities to young families.

Dearne MP John Healey (pictured) blamed the Government for forcing the authority into making the tough decision by cutting its early years and child care service budget by £2.2m from £5.053m.

He said: “This will be a huge blow for the families who have valued their local Sure Start centre as a hub of support and friendship, as well as a place their children are well cared for.

“We’re starting to see the impact of deep Government cuts in our area.

“Each year, they’ve cut Sure Start grants more and more. The council has been plugging the gap but with their funding being slashed too, they have had no choice but to announce these closures.”

The closures, proposed by the council’s cabinet, would not take effect until the 2015/16 budget year.

Residents are being asked their views on the proposals during a series of public meetings.

There will be one held at Wath Comprehensive School on Thursday, March 20, at 6pm.

Councillor Paul Lakin, cabinet member for children and young peoples’ services, said: “This has not been an easy decision and we do not want to take this action but I hope parents take time out to attend the meetings and hear first hand what is being proposed.”

The public consultation ends on April 30 and the plans will go before cabinet members for decision.