Last week the cabinet of Tory-run Suffolk County Council decided to close nine Sue Start Children's Centres, including two - Quayside & Meredith - in Ipswich. One Centre, Ormiston, which served the deprived Racecourse area of South East Ipswich had already been closed last year.
The Labour Group on Suffolk County Council has challenged the decision by the Conservatives on Suffolk County Council to close nine children’s centres by identifying a key document that was not presented to the Cabinet before their decision was taken.
Official Department of Education guidance which states that there should not be a presumption to close children’s centres was not presented to the Cabinet. The second ground on which the decision is being reviewed is that the criteria for choosing which centres are to be closed is not clear in the papers presented to them.
Labour Spokesperson for Children’s Services Cllr Bryony Rudkin said; “The fight to save Children’s Centres will continue. How a paper can be presented to Cabinet without reference to the key guidance documentation from central government I will never know. This blatant disregard for the guidance shows that the decision to close children’s centres is nothing to do with need, buildings or services. As Cabinet members said in their meeting this decision was only ever about saving money.”
The national guidance states that that there should be ‘a presumption against the closure of children’s centres’. Labour Councillors will be arguing that this whole process has been from the starting point that children’s centres will close.
The review of the decision to close the children’s centres will now be heard by Suffolk County Councils own Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday 11th February.