Assurances over centres

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ASSURANCES have been given that Scarborough’s Sure Start Children’s Centres are safe despite closures in other parts of the country.

Concerns were raised after the “ring fence” around Government was removed, giving councils the freedom to spend the money in other areas.

Centres are set to close in Stoke-on-Trent and London and in Oxfordshire, three centres that were due to be built are not going ahead.

However, a spokeswoman from North Yorkshire County Council said Sure Start centres in Briercliffe, Falsgrave, Friarage and Eastfield, with ones in Whitby and Filey, will not close.

She also said the council was carrying out a “significant reorganisation” of its children’s centres.

She said: “The county council is taking the opportunity to concentrate resources and improve frontline services for families.

“We have increased the number of people working directly with children and families when they are in most need of support.

“The county council has also increased the number of administrative staff who deal directly with the public, making facilities more accessible for local groups.

“In order to focus resources in this way the county council has centralised some finance and data posts in the coastal area and has concentrated management into one tier.”

However, Megan Pacey, chief executive of the representative body for state-sector nurseries, Early Education, said: “I would be very surprised at the end of all this, if there are any local authorities in England who have not had to close at least one of their children’s centres.”

She said cost effective and creative ways could be found to preserve the “excellent” services to be found in children’s centres.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We have ensured there is enough money in the system to maintain the network of Sure Start children’s centres, as well as providing new investment for health visitors.”

Scarborough’s Sure Start services include early learning and play, child and family health services.