Changes for children’s centres in Northants could be approved next week

Cllr Heather Smith
Cllr Heather Smith

Proposals to change the opening hours at children’s centres in Northamptonshire are set to be discussed next week.

Councillors will also be asked to approve a recommendation to change the venue of five children’s centres to a more suitable location on Tuesday.

More than 650 people completed an online survey as part of a six-week consultation into the proposed changes, while a series of public meetings about the plans were attended by 124 people.

The proposal to reduce opening hours at 22 of the county’s children’s centres follows a move last year to deliver some universal children’s services from Northamptonshire County Council’s 36 libraries, giving children’s centres capacity to focus on providing targeted support for the families most in need.

The proposed change in venue relates to children’s centres at Highfield in Wellingborough, Nene Lakes in Earls Barton, Manor in Raunds, Brixworth in Daventry and Roade in South Northamptonshire.

Cllr Heather Smith, county council deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We are committed to delivering the highest quality services for children and families across Northamptonshire and we believe the proposed changes to opening hours and venues will enable us to provide those services in the right place at the right time.

“The new model implemented last year to deliver universal children’s services such as information and advice, registration services and activities such as Rhymetime in our libraries means some children’s centre buildings are not needed to the same extent as before.

“Unlike some other local authorities, we are not reducing our spending on children’s centres. But by reducing opening hours, and in five cases changing the venue, our two providers Action for Children and Spurgeons can focus more of their time and funding on providing help to families where they most need it – in community centres or in some cases in their homes.”

Many of the comments received during the consultation related to wider issues concerning children’s centres and the council is currently drawing up an action plan to address some of these concerns.