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Mums arrange protest over children's centres closures

A group of mothers and their supporters have staged a protest today against planned cuts to children's centres in Hampshire. The parents in Basingstoke want the council to rethink proposals to slash more than £20 million from the budget. The plan is to close all 54 children's centres and replace them with 11 hubs to help streamline services and save money. Kate Bunkall reports.

The interviewee is Catherine Overden, the organiser.

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Union threatens strike action over cuts to children's centres

Union members are threatening to take strike action against plans to shut children's centres in Oxfordshire.

Councillors voted last month to close forty four, replacing them with eight 'early intervention' hubs as part of plans to save money.

Unite has accused the local authority of turning its back on children. The council says more cuts are needed because of the reduced amount from central Government.

Parents gathered to protest over plans to shut children's centres in Oxfordshire Credit: ITV Meridian

"The last thing our members want to do is take strike action. They are highly skilled professionals and deeply committed to the children, young people and the families they work with, day in and day out.

"But they have decided that they cannot sit back and watch while the council denies Oxfordshire's young people a future and destroys its top class children's early intervention service.

"In writing that letter, David Cameron has exposed the two-faced nature of his stance, by urging austerity from central government on the one hand, and then taking the council leader to task for implementing his government's own policies.

"The prime minister and his Tory council leader would do well to remember that our members work with some of the county's most vulnerable families. The one to one support they provide on issues from domestic abuse to help with self-harm and drug and alcohol misuse is vital to turning lives around."

– Chris Gray Unite regional officer

Mixed reception for SureStart changes

Campaigners admit their fight to keep children's centres open across Kent has had only limited success. The county council say cuts in Government grants mean it's not possible to keep all 97 centres running. 12 centres stretching from Westerham to Deal will shut for good.

Nineteen centres WILL stay open but with reduced opening times. The Conservatives at KCC say they had no alternative. Labour politicians have denounced the decision as shameful. Ruje Yasmin reports, talking to campaigner Hannah Arnold, Labour candidate Tristan Osborne, and Whitstable mums.

12 children's centres in Kent are to close

Larkfield Children's Centre is closing Credit: ITV News Meridian

12 children's centres in Kent are to shut: the county council blames cuts in government funding. However 11 of 23 centres which were threatened with closure will remain open. It comes after the County Council consulted with thousands of parents.

One of the children's centres that is to close Credit: ITV News Meridian

The authority says it's come up with new ways of running them to save money and bring in some income. The centres offer help and advice to parents.

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Half of threatened children's centres to close

Twelve of the twenty three children's centres in Kent which were threatened with closure will shut.

The remaining eleven centres will remain open. The announcement follows a three-month consultation in which 6,000 people took part. Kent County council says it has come up with new ways of running the surviving centres which will enable the authority to save money and bring in some income.

“We had an overwhelming response to our proposal and I would like to thank all the parents who took the time to tell us their views. They came up with some fantastic suggestions about how we could make savings and generate income with ideas such as hiring out the buildings after-hours.

“I have listened to parents and seen first-hand the impact these Centres have and, where they are vital to the community, we have found ways to keep them open. This consultation has never been about reducing services and these will continue to be delivered in alternative buildings in areas where a Centre closes. I am confident that these changes will result in high-quality, effective Children’s Centres to support the children and families of Kent into the future.”

– Jenny Whittle, Cabinet member for specialist children’s services, Kent County Council