Parties argue over children centres’ future in Warwickshire

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A political row has broken out over what to do with Warwickshire’s Children’s Centres in the wake of a 30 per cent reduction in funding.

Last week county Conservatives voted for a strategic option to keep all the county’s 39 children’s centres open despite the reduction in funding. Lib Dem councillors, who voted against the option, accused the Tories of, “playing politics with Warwickshire’s school children”. Whatever happens, free child education for disadvantaged two to four year-olds will no longer be available in all centres, putting extra strain on some parents.

Last month officers came up with three recommendations for the way forward, only one of which would mean that all centres would remain open. Conservative committee spokesman Cllr Mike Perry, said: “I was amazed that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats voted against that option.” Conservative Cllr Heather Timms added: “Parents in Warwickshire have been let down by the actions of both Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors. I want local families across the county to know that Conservatives are continuing to fight hard to keep their local centres open.”

In response Lib Dem leader Cllr Jerry Roodhouse that none of the options had been developed sufficiently to guarantee a sustainable future for the 39 current centres.

He added: “It is the Conservative administration which has proposed these massive funding cuts to Children’s Centre budgets for next financial year, and has set a very tight timetable for decision making. Opposition members were not prepared to support their option outright given there remained a lot of unanswered questions about the impact of the proposed funding cuts, redundancy implications, governance arrangements and service delivery outcomes.”

The Conservative cabinet will decide how to proceed on September 12.