THREE Sheffield children’s centres are facing the axe - leaving hundreds of families with further to travel for childcare.
Several more of the city’s 36 children’s centres could also be downgraded as part of a council savings plan, The Star can reveal.
Parents have voiced concerns about the changes, proposed as part of the council’s review of childcare, which have put around 50 jobs at risk.
Children’s centres offer free nursery places plus family support services under the Sure Start scheme, covering health, parenting and employment and training advice for mums and dads.
Trade union Unison says the three sites at risk of closure are Broomhall on Broomhall Lane, Burngreave on Spital Street and Primrose on Creswick Street, Lower Walkley.
Sheffield Council insists nothing has yet been decided, and says it will consult with affected staff and parents.
Full-time mum-of-five Lucy McGuran, aged 30, whose daughter Caitlin attends Broomhall Children’s Centre, said: “It is a fantastic nursery and it is convenient for a lot of parents because their older children also go to schools around the local area.
“Many people haven’t got cars and it will be difficult for them to travel elsewhere.”
Another parent, who did not wish to be named, added: “There are a lot of people this will inconvenience. The council should maybe look at making savings in other areas.”
The Star understands the council is also proposing to reorganise the remaining centres, with some designated as ‘hubs’ which will house all current services and others downgraded to ‘satellite’ centres with fewer facilities and shared managers to cut costs.
The changes could mean some families also having to travel further for family support services.
Rod Padley, organiser for Unison at Sheffield Council, said: “I have heard the council wants to close Broomhall, Burngreave and Primrose centres.
“Around 50 jobs are at risk in total and hundreds of families will be affected.
“The council may be having to make cuts but there are other areas where they could make savings - and they could reduce the amount of cuts they have to make by using some of the £8 million surplus they achieved last year.”
Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “We announced the findings of the first stage of our early years services review in March.
“Work is now ongoing to reshape our services to best reflect what parents and carers said was important to them and their children, but I would like to stress no decisions have been made yet.
“The review was an open and transparent process involving everyone concerned about services for young children and families.
“Their views were vital, so we will share our conclusions with them as soon as we can.”
She added: “It is no secret that the amount of funding available to run these services has been cut significantly in recent years and all our services have to offer value for money.
“But the needs of young children and their parents and carers remain our priority. We want them to have access to quality provision, in the right place and at the right time.
“We are working to make sure young children and their families receive high quality care so they are ready for school when the time comes.”