Camden to prioritise early years' services but still forced to make serious cuts

Following the cut in Government funding, Camden has had to plan over £80million in a wide ranging savings programme.

While making these savings Camden Councillors have urged officers to continue to prioritise early years’ services and to try to keep changes to the service as minimal as possible.

Despite this, it has still been necessary to cut £3.2m from early years’ services and this includes savings from closing two of the borough’s children’s centres.

Camden has a total of 17 children’s centres, with 11 managed by the Council. The 17 centres have been carefully examined against a range of criteria with the aim to reduce as few places as possible, maintain provision with a specialist special educational needs (SEN) unit and where there are other children’s centres nearby.

Before any final decisions can be made, Camden’s Cabinet will discuss the savings proposal at its meeting in February. Should they agree the proposals a consultation will take place in March and April with a final decision being taken in May 2011.

The centre facing closure first is the Caversham Children’s Centre in Vadnie Bish House, Kentish Town, closing in August 2011. The centre is no longer designated an official Children’s Centre and doesn’t meet any of the key criteria.

The second centre facing closure is the Acol centre in West Hampstead. The other centres have either a specialist special educational needs (SEN) unit or are the base for a family support team.

Councillor Heather Johnson, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Families, Camden Council, said:

“We understand that all of our children’s centres are valued by their local communities but in order to make the level of saving required by central government we have no choice but to close two of them. In fact, I am relieved and very pleased that we have found ways of keeping the remaining 15 centres open.”

She added:

“I know lots of people will be worried about how to access services but they can rest assured that we will offer everyone the assistance they need to find alternative services. The consultations will also give families the chance to let us know their feelings on the closures and how they will be affected. This is a very hard decision to have to make but I hope people will understand why we are having to do this and that no decision will be made without very careful consideration.”

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Reference code: PR1321
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