Labour under attack over Derbyshire children’s centres shake-up

Tory chief Barry Lewis.
Tory chief Barry Lewis.

Conservative councillors have accused Labour of “scaremongering” over plans to shake-up children’s centres in Derbyshire.

On Tuesday, Labour-led Derbyshire County Council agreed to launch a consultation on cost-cutting proposals to completely close two children’s centres and slash opening hours at ten others.

The authority originally said it intended to shut up to seven centres over the next year, however – leading the opposition to claim Labour frightened the public only to “spin a ‘we saved the day’ story”. Councillor Kevin Gillott, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, has hit back at the accusation.

Cllr Jocelyn Street, shadow cabinet member for young people, said: “Labour is behaving disgracefully by misleading and scaremongering the public by starting off this consultation saying that they may have to close seven centres but in the end stating they may only close two.”

Cllr Barry Lewis, Conservative leader on the council, added: “Labour has left no stone unturned to spin a ‘we saved the day’ story out of this sad debacle.”

The council needs to save £157million by 2018 because of Government cuts. Cllr Gillott, pictured centre, said: “The Tories’ claims are nonsense. We’re trying our hardest to minimise the impact of these Conservative cuts so we can keep essential services available for children, families and communities.”

Under the new plans, which will be subject to a three-month consultation starting on October 8, Ashbourne and Duffield centres would close completely. The building of Langwith children’s centre would shut but its services would continue in a nearby site. The consultation will also seek residents’ views on reducing opening hours from five days a week to two days at ten centres, including Bakewell, Crich and Killamarsh.