Council could shut children’s centres

County Hall, Matlock.
County Hall, Matlock.

Derbyshire County Council bosses are considering closing around seven children’s centres in a bid to save £1.1 million a year.

Government cuts mean the Labour-run authority must save £157 million by 2018.

The council runs 54 children’s centres at a cost of £8 million, which bosses say must be reduced to £6.9 million.

The council unveiled five options: charge parents for using children’s centres; charge organisations for using the buildings; reduce staffing levels; close about seven centres (depending on size and running costs); send parents to services offered by the voluntary, community and independent sector.

A report to cabinet members said the ‘most realistic option to save £1.1million’ was to close about seven children centres.

Councillors will discuss giving permission for a five-week consultation to take place, starting on May 12 and ending on June 17, at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday May 6. If that happens, the feedback will be used to form more detailed proposals, which will form a second public consultation in October.

Council leader Anne Western said: “This is an impossible situation forced upon us by the Coalition Government.

“We are faced with making devastating cuts to our services. It will have a very significant and detrimental impact on vulnerable people and on the local economy. We really don’t want to make these devastating cuts – we don’t relish this at all.

“We’re facing massive financial pressures like never before and that means we’ve got some difficult decisions to make. We don’t want to cut any services but we have no choice.”

In Amber Valley, the council runs Sure Start Children’s Centres in Ripley, Heanor, Alfreton, Ironville, Somercotes, Langley Mill, Belper, Crich and Duffield.