Wath Sure Start children’s centre set to stay open

The consultation on the future of Sure Start in Rotherham could lead to two more children’s centres staying open – including Wath Victoria.

Members of Rotherham Council’s cabinet heard at their meeting yesterday (April 30) that one of the key themes to quickly emerge from the consultation was the need for an even geographical distribution and spread of centres.

Cabinet members heard that facilities at Dinnington and Wath should stay. This will be discussed in detail when a full report on the consultation process is considered later.

More than 1,600 representations have been made to the council in response to the plans announced in January to change the way services are provided from April 2015 by having fewer centres. It was proposed 13 centres would close, due to the cut in Government funding from the Early Years and Child Care Service by £2.2 million.

John Healey MP said: “I am delighted the Wath Victoria children’s centre is set to stay open. It means children around Wath will still get the best start in life and parents will still be able to get the great childcare and support the centre offers.

“I met the head of Wath Sure Start in February shortly after the council opened the consultation about closures to discuss how best to make the case and campaign for the centre to stay open. We’ve worked together since then and I’ve held discussions with senior council members about leaving this part of Rotherham without a Sure Start. But it’s been the strong support from parents and the detailed work that the centre’s staff have done to demonstrate the need for our Wath children’s centre that has really counted.

“We know the council has been forced into plans to close some of the town’s children’s centres because the Government has cut our Rotherham Sure Start funding by £8.6m since 2010 and we’re the ninth worst affected council in the country. But I am pleased the Council have listened to some of the concerns raised during the consultation and plan to keep the two extra centres open.”

Wath Councillor Alan Atkin said: “This is excellent news. It is down to some good campaigning and good local support. The council listened to the excellent reasons put forward by the MP, councillors, staff and parents.”

There have been 14 consultation events across the borough and these have been successful in enabling communities to contribute their views. Joyce Thacker, Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services for Rotherham Council, emphasised that no final decision will be made until the final report into the consultation is considered.

She added: “We have had an excellent response to the consultation proposal. That proposal was based on local levels of deprivation and need but the consultation has quickly revealed that outlying areas also have to be considered from a geographical point of view. If more centres do remain open, such as at Dinnington and Wath, we will also have to consider how the authority can financially sustain these two buildings.”