Child centre decision made

Councillors have agreed controversial changes to children’s centres to save £725,000 in this year’s budget.

Kirklees Council’s cabinet unanimously agreed to go ahead with plans to form ‘clusters’ of two to four centres with a single management hub for each.

This will cut management and administration costs, while keeping all 32 centres open with more frontline staff, according to a council report.

Officers said finer details about how costs will be cut and how many managers will remain are yet to be decided.

The plans say that the Dewsbury Moor and Scout Hill Chidlren’s Centre will share a management team with the Ravensthorpe centre.

The Chickenley, Earlsheaton and Shaw Cross centre will share administration with the Flatts and Eastborough centre.

In Dewsbury South, the centres in Savile Town, Thornhill Lees and Thornhill will form a cluster.

But the children’s centre in Mirfield will not be put in a cluster so will not have to share its management team.

Trade unions wanted more details on how the changes would affect individual centres.

At the meeting on Tuesday, Kirklees Unison chief steward Graham Paisley said the plans were ‘too vague’.

He said: “I think the detail of how that works is just a complete mystery. I spoke to several councillors who can’t find out what’s going on, there’s a wall of silence about this.”

After the meeting, Coun Khizar Iqbal (Con, Dews South) said the new proposals were no different from the council’s original plan to reduce services at some centres.

He said: “It’s still a bitter pill but they have changed the label on it. They are still going ahead with the cuts and now they are reducing the management structure. That’s going to affect services. The management team are the key people who deliver the key services.”

However, the new plan was welcomed by Jodie Burton, who takes her two children to the centre in Mirfield.

Under the original plans she faced the prospect of taking her family to Ravensthorpe to access certain services.

She said: “This is absolutely superb. I would not have been able to get down to Ravensthorpe. The Mirfield centre is very important.