Cheshire East Council has unveiled proposals that show the authority’s commitment to continue to provide services for families and young children at four children’s centres.
Knutsford, Broken Cross, Sandbach and Nantwich and Rural children’s centres are to be de-designated by the Council and used for a wider range of services. They are NOT being closed.
De-designating them means the Council plans to still deliver services from each building – but more as a satellite rather than as a designated centre and office based.
The level of service will continue to be tailored to the local community to meet local need. This reflects the Council’s commitment to providing ‘the right service in the right place at the right time’.
Under proposals, early-years services including new parent groups, baby massage, tiny tots play groups, midwifery and stay-and-play sessions will continue at the centres, which are proposed to be leased from the Council by Wirral Community NHS Trust (Knutsford and Broken Cross) and local school academy trusts (Sandbach and Nantwich).
Of the 74 services offered across all four sites, only seven are being affected.
A mobile service is in the process of being procured by the Council to deliver tailored services to reflect local demand in rural areas. There will be no loss of capacity.
Councillor Liz Durham, Cabinet member for children and families, said: “Cheshire East Council is committed to ensuring that those children and families who are in greatest need receive the support they require through a modernised children's service that delivers the right service in the right place and at the right time.
“Cheshire East has listened to people and their concerns throughout this consultation and has now briefed local elected members on the proposals.
“Rather than closing children’s centre services in four of the Borough’s locations – as inaccurately reported in the media – the Council is actually protecting services via a different deliver model and broadening their reach into our wider communities. No centres are closing.
“These proposals for revised service delivery will allow the Council to build further on its aspirations for a far more effective delivery of services, working with partners and addressing a far wider range of family needs and concerns.
“As a ‘Residents First’ authority, we believe in supporting our families and children and those in greatest need. We believe that the proposals for change in the Borough will support better outcomes for children across Cheshire East.”
De-designation and reorganisation of service deliver will save the Council around £500,000 a year. Several posts will be lost in the reorganisation, including management and back office roles. However, it is hoped staff affected will be redeployed within the authority, with no compulsory redundancies.
The full list of proposed services for each of the children’s centres can be viewed on the Council’s website at: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/children_and_families