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Surrey Liberal Democrats condemn closures of 31 children’s centres in the County

January 31, 2019 12:05 PM

County HallAt Surrey County Council's Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Cabinet members approved plans to shut 31 of Surrey's 58 children centres. Liberal Democrat County Councillors spoke out at the meeting against the closures, believing the proposals were not in the best interests of the residents of Surrey and the current users of the centres.

Surrey County Council's 2030 Vision suggests that the aim moving forward is to have a County in which 'no one is left behind'. But Surrey Lib Dems argue that by taking away the children's centres, and in the sheer numbers agreed on Tuesday, this leaves many of the most vulnerable open to suffering.

Surrey Lib Dem Leader, and County Councillor for Caterham Hill, Chris Botten, said:
"Liberal Democrats support the proposed modernisation of the service and the targeting of the most vulnerable. But we cannot accept that so many centres need to close when they provide a safe place for vulnerable women and families; those suffering from domestic violence and post-natal depression, and those struggling to breast feed and to adjust to motherhood without family support"

Lib Dem County Councillor for Dorking South & The Holmwoods, Stephen Cooksey, said:
"The policy comes under the heading 'delivering better services for residents'. In my Division, the Dorking Children's Centre, which has an 'outstanding' Ofsted designation, will lose 58% of its funding and be expected, without any additional resources, to take over the work of the Leatherhead Children's Centre which will be closed. There is no way that under those circumstances the standards and range of the present services could be continued. So much for 'delivering better services'."

Lib Dem County Councillor for Woking South, Will Forster, said:
"Surrey County Council's plans to close 31 of 58 of our Children's Centres is completely flawed and ignores the public consultation, nobody outside County Hall wants to see these centres closed. The County Council is using out-of-date data, meaning the Council's new looked Children's Centres won't be supporting some of the most vulnerable families.

"In my Borough of Woking, the Council is to close 5 out of 7 Children's Centres, despite Woking having significant pockets of deprivation and being the second poorest Borough in Surrey. Under the Council's plans, centres in Brookwood, Horsell, Old Woking, Pyrford and St John's would all close, leaving just 2 Children's Centres to cover the whole Borough of a much reduced budget. These centres help families most in need, but now not everyone will be able to easily access them."