Call to save Menston children's centre from council cuts

Wharfedale Observer: Child minders at the Children's Centre with local councillors. From right are Coun Dale Smith, Coun Jackie Whiteley, Tracey Gibbs, Jemma Tighe, Rachel Cox, Polly Beldan and Gerry Barker Child minders at the Children's Centre with local councillors. From right are Coun Dale Smith, Coun Jackie Whiteley, Tracey Gibbs, Jemma Tighe, Rachel Cox, Polly Beldan and Gerry Barker

Childminders in Menston and Burley say they will lose a valuable resource if a local children’s centre is closed.

Labour-run Bradford Council’s budget proposals include plans to close seven children’s centres across the district with a “lower need”.

The proposed closure of the seven, including Menston and Burley and Ilkley, would save the authority £2.4m and form part of a plan to save £3m from youth services over the next two years.

However, local Conservative councillors have reacted angrily and Wharfedale Conservative councillors Jackie Whiteley and Dale Smith visited the children’s centre in their ward this week to meet those who use it.

Coun Whiteley said: “These phase three children’s centres were funded by a central government grant.

“The Menston and Burley Children’s Centre in our ward was specially built and opened only three years ago on the premise that all children deserve a good start in life.

“We met with a group of childminders who use the centre and who are very concerned at the news.”

Local childminder Tracey Gibbs said: “I earn my living by childminding and I rely on this Children’s Centre. I come for two reasons.

“It allows me to meet other childminders and to share good practice, but most importantly the young children I look after learn to socialise and build relationships when playing with other children.”

Coun Whiteley added: “There are many people with children in our ward who go out to work to earn a living and who rely on good childminders such as Tracey.

“It is not sensible to withdraw this support and it is certainly not fair to hard working people. It will be a terrible mistake to withdraw this investment in our children’s future.”

A petition against the closure has been started and can be found in post offices, doctors’ surgeries, cafes and in local chemist shops or an online e-petition can found on: epetition.bradford.public-i.tv/

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