Residents urged to comment on children’s centres consultation which could see services cut

Residents are being asked to comment on a consultation for children's centres in Central Bedfordshir

Residents are being asked to comment on a consultation for children's centres in Central Bedfordshire - Credit: Archant

Residents are being urged to comment on a consultation for children’s centres which could see services cut.

A consultation was launched by Central Bedfordshire Council last week to seek feedback from residents on four possible options for delivering services to families through the nine children’s centres based in the area.

The centres – which include one which serves Stotfold and Arlesey and another in Shefford – currently offer services to families of children aged five and under, such as weighing and baby clinics, breastfeeding support, two-year-old checks and speech and language drop-ins.

The future of each hub – which are also based in north and south Dunstable, Houghton Regis, Leighton Buzzard, Sandy, Flitwick and Biggleswade – is now up for debate to outline who will able to access services and what sort of support will be provided. It follows a previous consultation in 2011.

Satinderjit Dhaliwal, secretary of the Arlesey and Stotfold branch of the Labour Party, said: “I would urge all local parents, grandparents and family members to show their support for option one. The current system allows for early intervention and prevention of problems that can have a negative effect on a child for many years to come.

“The problems that parents are faced with do not depend on where they live, how much money they have, the problems are universal as should be the service that deals with them.

“At the last consultation on children’s centres the majority of responses came from Stotfold, yet the local budget for the children’s centre was slashed. This time we need to respond in even greater numbers to ensure that we save the universal service that helps so many parents and children in our local area.”

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Cllr Mark Versallion, executive member for children’s services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Since we last consulted the early-years landscape has significantly changed, not least with the increasing focus and importance of early help. The proposals reflect these changes and recognise the important role played by community and voluntary groups as well as the private sector in offering a wide range of services for local families.”

The consultation runs until August 19 with the feedback from it to be considered by the council’s executive at a meeting on September 23 – where a final decision is expected to be made.

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