Protests as council makes controversial decision on future of children's centres

Protestors outside County Hall in Norwich this morning Credit: ITV Anglia

There've been protests in Norwich over controversial plans to close the vast majority of children's centres in Norfolk.

Councillors voted through the controversial proposals at County Hall.

It spells disappointment for thousands of parents, who've been campaigning to keep them open. 38 of the 53 centres providing services for children aged five and under will close later this year.

Councillors arriving for a meeting to determine their future were lobbied by those urging a rethink.

With £5 million being cut from the children's services, the initial plan was to close 46 of the 53 centres, which provide services for parents with children under the age of five. But after a public consultation, there was a potential reprieve for eight of them.

It's a highly controversial proposal. It prompted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to visit to the Angel Road centre in Norwich, one of those under threat.

Julie Brociek-Coulton, a councillor representing that area of the city, was one of those protesting. She said it would be 'devastating for local families; if it closed.

At the meeting, Sara Tough, the executive director of children's services in Norfolk, said the proposals were not about saving money but about redesigning the service to provide better outcomes for parents in the county.

Stuart Dark, the chairman of the committee, has said the council can help children and families through support in people's homes and in venues like village halls and community centres.

Protestors are angry at plans to close some of the children's centres Credit: ITV Anglia