Protests mark new proposals

NEW plans to make changes to Sure Start children’s centres were revealed this week.

Kirklees Council would form ‘clusters’ containing two to four centres, under a new plan to cut costs. This would allow management and administration to be reduced while keeping all 32 centres open with more frontline staff, it said.

Centres would also work with children up to the age of 19, instead of the current age limit of five years, while One Stop Shops and Stay and Play sessions would be maintained in every centre.

Coun Cath Harris, cabinet member for children’s services, said the clusters would allow Kirklees to tailor services to each area.

But the campaign group Save Our SureStart said there was still much to fight for. They marched through Huddersfield on Saturday to keep pressure on councillors.

Secretary Dani Jones said: “About 100 people came to keep the message out there. There’s still cuts going to happen and they will affect families.”

Chairwoman Gemma Wilson said they were meeting with council leader Coun Mehboob Khan today (Thursday) to discuss the plans. She said: “They’re talking about management cuts which could affect the way the centres actually run. And how are staff going to stretch all the way to age 19?”

And Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood said the cuts plan was premature as the budget affecting the children’s centres hadn’t even been set yet.