THE chairman of Ilkley Youth and Community Association (IYCA) has criticised Bradford Council's proposals to withdraw its children's services from Little Lane Children's Centre in Ilkley.

As part of a consultation on the the future of 41 children's centres in the Bradford district, it is proposed alternative sites in Ilkley should be used by the council to provide prevention and early help services for children and families.

A report gives detailed proposals on which sites would be continued to be used, which new sites could be used and which sites may no longer be used.

Chairman of IYCA and Children's Centre Martin Smith has been lobbying the council to increase services at the Little Lane centre ever since they were radically reduced in June last year.

Cllr Smith said: "We were shocked when they said they were reducing the hours at the children's centre in June 2018. IYCA had been trying, with emails to CEO Bradford, the new Interim Children’s Director, as well as mid-tier officers, for them to come to a decision as to whether they are to continue to support the Children’s Centre in Ilkley by returning their hours of use to pre-June levels. It is only by doing so can the property be managed and made available for their use as well as the wider community.

"Now we have a document [on the agenda of Bradford Council's executive meeting on February 5] which says they will use other premises in Ilkley when we have the best 0-19 centre in Bradford! So much for consultation."

Cllr Smith said the association couldn't wait any longer for Bradford Council to make a decision and would be seeking other children's service operators to fill the time slots which it had been reserving for the Council for over six months.

He added: "We would be happy to discuss available sessions with registered operators who would wish to join us in our excellent bespoke facilities which were built by a previous government to give better pre-school support to young families but closed by Bradford."

Bradford Council's proposals are subject to public consultation until May 7. People can give their views through online questionnaire as well as at a number of events which will take place across the district. Any changes to the use of specific buildings would then be subject to further consultation.

Cllr Imran Khan, Bradford Council's Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills, said: “Government cuts mean that the Council’s budgets are under huge pressure so we need to make sure we use every penny in the best way we can. The purpose of this consultation is to listen carefully to communities and our voluntary sector so we can find out how to use the locations we have in the best way possible. This will help us maximise the resources we can put into the frontline services that provide early help for children and families.”

Ilkley Youth and Community Association is a registered charity which took over the running of the Little Lane Children's Centre in 2016 from Bradford Council.