Sarah Champion MP raises objections to closure of Rotherham Children’s Centres

Sarah Champion MP has written Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council to raise objections at the proposed implementation of Phases 2 & 3 of the Council’s Early Help Plan. The proposals, which have recently entered public consultation, would see the closure of two children’s centres within the Rotherham constituency, Park View and Broom Valley, as well as the closure of Herringthorpe Youth Club.

Recent research by the Sutton Trust has revealed that as many as 1,000 Sure Start centres across the country have closed since 2009 – twice as many as the government has reported.[1]

The Sure Start Children’s Centre programme, introduced in 1998 by the last Labour government, brought together ‘under one roof’ services for young children and their families. Focused initially on the most disadvantaged areas in England, the programme was later extended to all areas. By its peak in August 2009, there were 3,632 centres, with over half (54%) in the 30% most disadvantaged areas. However, in recent years, its status as a key national programme has diminished, accompanied by substantial budget cuts, the suspension of Ofsted inspections and increasingly uneven local provision.

The proposal to close two centres in Rotherham, as well as a third centre in Wath-Upon-Dearne, follows previous closures that reduced the number of children’s centres in the Borough from 22 to just 9.

Commenting on the proposals, Sarah said:

“Children’s centres are a vital first port of call for many families, providing expert support, helping to signpost access to other services and making sure children get the best start in life. It is really disappointing, therefore that the council intends to close yet more centres in Rotherham.”

Regarding financial pressures facing the Council, Sarah said:

“The council is of course being placed under huge financial pressure by central government and I understand that they need to consider every option. But I strongly believe cuts like this are counterproductive and may even end up costing the council more in the long run as early intervention and prevention are always the cheapest and best solution.’

‘RMBC needs to explore every option to protect the remaining children’s centres and I hope they will reconsider these damaging and short sighted proposals.”

You can read Sarah's letter HERE

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The consultation runs until Thursday 7th June 2018. Details are available at: http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/info/200597/consultations_-_open/1262/early_help_and_family_engagement_service_consultation 

[1] https://www.suttontrust.com/research-paper/sure-start-childrens-centres-england/

Alexander Guest