Children’s centres could be axed in money-saving shake-up

Cash-strapped Kirklees Council is proposing to axe a number of the centres it currently operates as it tries to make savings.
Cash-strapped Kirklees Council is proposing to axe a number of the centres it currently operates as it tries to make savings.
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Children’s centres could face closure as part of a shake-up of services for youngsters.

Cash-strapped Kirklees Council is proposing to axe a number of the centres it currently operates as it tries to make savings.

Under the plans, support for children, young people and their families would be delivered from four hubs, in key areas of the district - Dewsbury and Mirfield, Batley and Spen, Huddersfield, and Kirklees Rural.

Four designated children’s centres, one in each location, would remain and there would be 13 other sites offering support services for parents, children and teenagers.

Coun Erin Hill, cabinet member for family support and child protection, said: “We realise that this is a difficult area – reshaping a service that is so important to so many families, many of which are vulnerable, is never easy.

“The reality is that the council spends a lot of money on maintaining buildings, and we want to prioritise spending on people instead, focussing on the areas of highest need.

“So it is not just about money – although our budget savings targets are huge – it is about how we deliver the best service by the most appropriate people in the right place in the future and putting children first.”

In Batley and Spen, a hub in Batley would be the main point for people wanting to access services.

Birstall Co Location on Fieldhead Crescent in Birstall would become the area’s designated children’s centre.

And the Staincliffe and Healey children’s centre, Carlinghow Children’s Centre, and Young Batley Centre buildings would be used to offer extra support to children and adults in need.

In Dewsbury and Mirfield, a central Dewsbury building would become the main access hub and the designated children’s centre would be on Princess Road in Chickenley.

Dewsbury Arena Youth Centre, Crows Nest Park Centre, The Greenwood Centre in Ravensthorpe, Thornhill children’s centre in Edge Top Road, and Young Dewsbury Youth Club buildings would also be used for additional services.

The shake-up is designed to identify problems within vulnerable families at an earlier stage to prevent them from becoming more complex issues.

The council hopes this will reduce the overall cost of delivering services as well as lowering demand for high cost social care.

Coun Hill said: “We reviewed the service in 2011 and made changes at that time but we cannot stand still. Kirklees is not unique.

“Councils across the country are looking at the way they support children, young people and families and reducing the number of buildings that they have.

“Our vision is to work across Kirklees with partners and communities to support people to plan ahead, stay well and have support when they need it.

“That could be in a council run building, a community centre, school or someone’s own home.”

The remaining children and youth centres, which will no longer be used for services, could take on other council uses or may be handed over to the community.

In North Kikrlees, these include Batley East Field Lane, Gomersal Shirley Avenue, Cleckheaton, Flatts and Eastborough, Mirfield Taylor Hall Lane, and Savile Town.

A report to a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Tuesday said that Heckmondwike, Dewsbury Moor, Thornhill Lees and Birkby children’s centres could also be considered for additional school places.

Senior councillors will be asked to consider the proposals at the meeting and to approve the launch of a consultation period.

A final decision will be made in January.