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'Don't close down our day centre'

PUBLISHED: 15:23 10 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:23 10 February 2020

Parents met on Sunday after news of cuts to day care services at Millfields Children's Centre to discuss ways to save the nursery. Picture: Paul Fuller

Parents met on Sunday after news of cuts to day care services at Millfields Children's Centre to discuss ways to save the nursery. Picture: Paul Fuller

Paul Fuller

Parents and carers are "heartbroken after being told a much-loved children's centre in Lower Clapton will stop its daycare services.

A campaign has been launched opposing the plans to close the Millfields Children's Centre this summer.

Headteacher Jane Betsworth and chair of governors Damian Holt have stated in a letter to parents that the centre has been running at a deficit for years, with the number of families using childcare facilities declining.

Father-of-two Paul Fuller told the Gazette: "It's a sad loss when there's such huge queues to get into nurseries - how can they be running at a deficit? What's been going on?"

Paul is among 66 people opposing the plans and wants to know why parents, carers and staff weren't told about the deficit earlier. He said: "I think the main thing that's upset everybody is the complete lack of consultation."

Parents have queried how the number of families using childcare facilities at the centre could be declining when the children who have just joined have been kept on waiting lists and nurseries across the borough are full.

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"There was one dad who was absolutely fuming. All [he'd] gone through to get [his] child here to be told two weeks later that they've got to leave [in August]," said Paul.

Despite assurances the council will secure alternative childcare places for kids at the centre, parents are worried about being put on waiting lists again, the impact this will have on their kids and what will happen to staff.

The council says the governors are responsible for the finances and that most of the 52 children at the centre are expected to start reception or take up a school nursery place in September anyway.

Children's chief Cllr Chris Kennedy said: "We will be supporting families to find alternative childcare and will work with the school to maintain stay and play activities.

"These sessions are extremely popular so we want children, parents and carers to continue to access these valuable services at Millfields."

Children from Millfields will be prioritised for vacant places at Clapton Park, Comberton, Linden and other children's centres

A meeting will take place tomorrow (Fri) to discuss the planned changes.

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