Swindon Council’s cabinet, considering proposals for its 2013-14 budget is looking to slash £380,000 over two years from children’s centres.
The plan was to reduce staff management costs by putting 14 children’s centres across the town which are run by primary schools, academies and charities into just four clusters.
The proposal caused consternation amongst the heads and staff of the children’s centres who fear that families, reeling under the impact of changes in welfare benefits, will suffer. Currently the children’s centres are managed as separate entities by teams who build close relationships with families in the geographical areas they serve.
Representing heads of the different centres at the December cabinet meeting, headteacher Nick Capstick told councillors that the clustering proposal is not ethically or financially viable and would not meet the objectives of delivering the social benefits children’s centres currently achieve with the most vulnerable families in Swindon.
However councillor David Renard, cabinet member for children’s service, denies there would be a loss of service but would like the heads of centres to come up with alternative ideas. “The original proposal is now half-on and half-off the table,” he said.
Abbey Meads Primary School headteacher Bob Buckley welcomed the opportunity to have further discussions. “We are pleased that the cabinet have agreed to work closely with the heads of service in each location to ensure the best protection of our most vulnerable families.”