D-Day for Doncaster’s children’s centres

Doncaster's  Civic Offices.
Doncaster's Civic Offices.
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Doncaster Council chiefs are to meet today to approve a series of measures which could cut the number of children’s centres across the town.

The ruling cabinet will gather to discuss a raft of measures which will lead to a number of local youth and children’s centre buildings shutting, with alternative arrangements being made to provide services to young people.

The moves are part of wide-ranging budget cuts at the authority, and will involve several schools taking on facilities and services previously offered by the council.

Since July, the council has been canvassing opinion from across 16 areas of the town for its Early Help Strategy, a programme aimed to shape the way services for young people and children will be delivered.

Now a report, due to be considered by the council’s cabinet, outlines a number of cuts, building closures and mergers across the borough.

It said the cabinet had a ‘preference to retain children’s centres wherever possible and for those to be utilised as multi-use where required’. The council currently has 40 children’s services buildings and centres.

That number will be cut under the proposals.

The shake-up includes Castle Hills Primary School taking ownership of the Great North Road Children’s Centre in Woodlands, Carcroft’s Bullcroft Children’s Centre and Highfields Hightime centres both closing their doors, and services provided at both Moorends and Thorne Youth Centres switching to children’s centres in the area.

Sheep Dip Lane Primary School will take up ownership of Dunscroft and Hatfield Children’s Centre, while Kirk Sandall infants school has indicated a desire to take over Barnby Dun, Edenthorpe and Kirk Sandall Children’s Centre.

In Mexborough the ageing Willows Outreach building would be disposed of, while Wheatley Youth Centre and both Sprotbrough Children’s Centre and Sprotbrough Youth Centre would be closed. The report added: “The proposals focus on the priority to deliver support to families but recognise the need to reduce the cost of buildings run by this council, particularly those which are under-utilised.

Following the consultation process, it means the number of buildings used by children’s services will reduce.

“Services will still be accessible to children, young people and their families, and an infrastructure will still be in place to deliver good quality services to meet local needs.”

The council document stated nearly 2,000 people had been involved in consultation over the project which will help reduce spending over the next three years.

However, the research showed 66 per cent of those asked did not want to lose services from their area while 57 per cent said a switch of services to new areas would be a significant barrier to accessing them.