Wakefield Council announces revised plans for future of children’s centres

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Three Wakefield Council run children’s centres which faced closure as part of a shake-up of services for families are now to remain open.

Butterflies in Normanton, Sharlston Children’s Centre and the Forrest Wood centre in Crigglestone were among 14 centres set to close.

The three centres will remain open to offer extra help to families in deprived areas under revised proposals to be discussed by Wakefield Council’s cabinet next week.

Centres in Castleford, Knottingley, Pontefract, Upton, South Kirkby, Flanshaw, Gawthorpe, Horbury, Wrenthorpe, South Elmsall and Havercroft are still planned to close.

Wakefield Council faces £185m in budget cuts during the next five years and must slash £2.5m from its spending on children’s centres.

But council bosses have insisted the changes are designed to improve support for the district’s most vulnerable families.

Olivia Rowley, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “I am confident that these plans deliver the right services for the right people in the right locations.”

Under the proposals, Ash Tree in Castleford, Sycamores in Knottingley, Orchard Head in Pontefract, Upton Children’s Centre, Little Owls in South Kirkby, Michaelmas in Flanshaw, Maypole in Gawthorpe, Small Steps in Wrenthorpe and Apple Tree in Horbury will close and be transferred to nearby schools.

Sunflowers in South Elmsall will be sold and Havercroft Children’s Centre will be leased to a private childcare provider.

The council was planning to centralise the district’s 23 centres into six main sites and three “linked” centres offering extra support in deprived areas.

A report to the cabinet meeting said six linked sites were actually needed.

Protests were held over the summer as families feared the closure of their children’s centres.

The council said it was currently spending 49 per cent of the children’s centres budget on maintaining costly buildings and different venues would be used to provided services.