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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

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