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Parents left in dark about service cuts at children centres

PUBLISHED: 17:46 13 July 2011

Mums Kate Levick and Jyoti Khan who say they turned up with their babies to find classes at Little Oaks Children's centre closed.

Mums Kate Levick and Jyoti Khan who say they turned up with their babies to find classes at Little Oaks Children's centre closed.

Archant

The Town Hall has been accused of leaving parents “in the dark” over £2.7 million service cuts to children’s centres.

A month ago parents in Tower Hamlets reported that baby and toddler classes had been cancelled without warning at the Little Oaks children’s centre in Bethnal Green.

The council then announced that the borough’s children centres were undergoing a restructuring under which £2.7 million worths of cuts had to be made. More than 20 staff across the centres’ management and administration will lose their jobs as a result.

The changes will see some outlets become lead centres while others become secondary outlets, the council said.

Some parents suspect that baby and toddler classes, along with parenting services, will now only be run at the lead centres and accused the council of effectively “closing” those becoming secondary centres, such as Little Oaks in Pelter Street.

But the council has so far refused to clarify the nature of the restructure.

The Labour group’s children’s spokesman Cllr Bill Turner said councillors were repeatedly assured during the budget meeting in February that there would be no cuts to children services.

Cllr Turner said: “Despite this, parents are now saying that the service is being cut, with some services no longer on offer and not enough places to meet demand.

“We have serious concerns that, despite our efforts to find out how the new structure will work, the council will still not tell us which services have been changed, meaning parents are left in the dark about what support they can get for their young families.”

A council spokeswoman insisted no children centres were closing despite the borough having to find over £70m worth of savings, as part of its budget cuts.

The Independent cabinet member for Children’s Services, Oliur Rahman, said: “We should all be clear that no children’s centres in Tower Hamlets are closing.

“To maintain this commitment, in line with central government budget cuts, we are making efficiency savings in some centres. But no frontline workers are losing their jobs and in some cases family support is being increased.”

A new children’s centre is opening tomorrow. Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman will be opening the Meath Gardens Children’s Centre, in Smart Street, in Globe Town, taking the number of children centres in the borough to 23.

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