Protests over changes to children’s centres in Cambridgeshire

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Protesters made their feelings known about proposed changes to children’s centres in Cambridgeshire which will save the county council £900,000 a year.

The council yesterday (Tuesday, October 17) agreed to change its service from 38 centres to 10 children and family centres and 12 children and family zones.

The decision was taken in the face of outside protests with placards being held up by people upset at the changes.

Councillors voted 31 to 22 to support the proposals which followed a 10 week consultation from 2,280 people - the largest ever response to a Cambridgeshire County Council consultation.

Cllr Simon Bywater, chairman of the Children’s Committee, said: “We have listened carefully to what people have been saying during the consultation and I want to reassure people we will continue to listen as we begin to implement these proposals.

“I recognise that feelings have run high during this debate, but I now call on all councillors, partners and communities to come together to help take these plans forward so we can fulfil the ambition of creating a service for more families to get the right help, at the right time and in the right place.

“The decision means we remain heavily committed to early intervention for families, something we believe is essential. The new service is intended to be embedded alongside our district early help teams, health and other community services providing a flexible, targeted and responsive service in order to meet the needs of a rapidly changing and growing county.”

Cllr Samantha Hoy, vice chairman of the Children and Young People Committee, added: “Children’s centre services across the country are changing to help them meet the needs of our most vulnerable families who remain our top priority.

“Our plans are very much in line with those of other counties who, like us, also have reducing budgets for a whole range of services where demand continues to grow.

“The council is sending a strong message to government that the long-term underfunding of large rural counties like ours cannot continue as part of our fairdeal4Cambs campaign.”