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Services to continue at Bishops Lydeard Children's Centre
CAMPAIGNERS who feared their children’s centre would close are celebrating after learning services are to stay the same.
Concerned users of the facility in Bishops Lydeard rallied together after learning of Somerset County Council’s proposals to ‘de-designate’ it last year.
Following consultation, the authority has said the centre will stay open and current services will continue.
Independent county councillor Mike Rigby, who lives in the village, led the fight to keep the facility available.
He said: “Since the proposals were made last year, I have heard from many of the users of the centre and the word ‘lifeline’ has come up repeatedly.
“Many of the mums I’ve spoken to have found the centre to be of such assistance that they have often become quite emotional when talking about the possible loss or reduction of the service.
“We are, therefore, very pleased that our campaigning has led to an about-face on the closure and that it will now remain open during the same hours as at present.”
Despite the news, Cllr Rigby says he remains concerned about on-going plans to de-designate the facility.
De-designation means the centre no longer has to provide specific detailed records of activities, services and improvement plans for Ofsted.
Cllr Rigby said: “It would lose its official status and may make it easier for the council to reduce services in the future without the same process of consultation.
“We are seeking assurances on this point and I’m also pleased that six months after the original proposals were made, the county council has finally started talking to the Bishops Lydeard Village Hall Committee.
“It owns the land on which the centre was built and should have been involved from the beginning of this process.”
A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “The restructure of children’s centre services is not, and never has been, about closing centres.
“It is about getting the right support to the people who need it most, with more money concentrated on the frontline.
“As with the other 14 centres where we have either held, or are planning to hold ‘Have Your Say’ meetings, the proposals for Bishops Lydeard are for no significant change to the help and support available to parents and families.”
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