Anger over cuts to child centres

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COUNCILLORS are putting up a fight over the proposed closure of children’s centres as part of Doncaster’s £26 million budget cuts.

The centres in Sprotbrough and Finningley are under threat and the axe is also hovering over a third centre, as yet unspecified.

At yesterday’s meeting of Doncaster Council’s overview and scrutiny management committee, devoted to looking at the Elected Mayor’s draft budget proposals, Coun Allan Jones, a ward member for Sprotbrough, said: “I don’t want any closures of any children’s centre. You didn’t want libraries to close and made a lot of stink but that children’s centre in my area is just as important as a library.”

Chairman Coun John Mounsey said the commitee had expressed concern about reductions in the Government grant for early intervention and children’s centre and the potential impact it could have on delivering long-term priorities around families.

Steve Mawson, the council’s deputy finance director, said there would probably be changes to the proposals for children’s centre and the Mayor would be discussing it with the chief executive and children’s and adult services director.

“I know the Mayor has got some views on it,” he said.

The committee also expressed opposition to a proposed rise in charges for Doncaster’s home emergency alarm system and school meals.

Mr Mawson said that the Mayor was ‘not minded’ to introduce a proposed 10p increase on school meals and that £300,000 could be saved with other efficiencies in schools’ catering.

A 56 per cent increase in charges for the response service for home alarm pendants was described as a ‘double whammy’ by independent councillor Martin Williams.

He pointed out elderly people had been forced to accept the pendants after losing the warden service.

“It’s a bit of a double whammy and I’m not happy about that,” he said.