Parents urged to speak out on Octopus Children’s Centre

This is The West Country: Michelle Jarvis Michelle Jarvis

PARENTS finally have another chance to speak out on controversial changes to Sedge-moor’s children’s centres.

Somerset County Council has earmarked Octopus Children’s Centre in Burnham as one of 18 across the county to be ‘de-designated’.

From February 24 families can have their say on the future of 11 of the 18 centres highlighted for change, during a fresh batch of consultation meetings.

As reported, mother of two Michelle Jarvis, whose daughters used the centre, has launched a petition called ‘Save The Octopus Children’s Centre’.

She told the Weekly News: “I am very pleased that SCC has arranged these consultations. I am hoping they will be very clear about their proposals, as previous information has been inconsistent and has not been communicated well.

“Terms like ‘de-designation’ have been used instead of ‘closure’ but the actual meaning of ‘de-designation’ and its effect on the centre and services has been a bit of a grey area. I hope they listen and understand that for many people location is key.

“A number of parents do not drive, nor have suitable/practical access to transport to take them to a centre in another area if the services are moved.”

County council children and families chief Frances Nicholson said: “The proposals for the centres will mean people will continue to get at least the same support they get now from the same buildings – if anything that support will be increased.

“There will be no proposals to close children’s centres. Services will continue to be provided through the current children’s centre building and other suitable venues.

“I hope these meetings lay to rest any concerns people may have had about the services that they, like the council, value so highly.”

The centres would be ‘de-designated’, meaning they would no longer need to provide detailed records or detailed improvement plans.

It also means a centre may need to provide services to people outside its catchment area.

The consultations at Octopus Children’s Centre will take place on Wednesday, February 26, from 6pm to 7.30pm and February 28 from 9.30pm to 11pm.

The council will announce proposals for the remaining seven centres over the next couple of weeks.

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