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Wiltshire parents plan protest to save six children's centres from closure

Families say the centres are vital for parents and babies Photo: ITV West Country

Families in Wiltshire say there won't be enough support for them if six children's centres in the county close.

The county council has earmarked shutting down centres at Westbury White Horse, Trowbridge Longfield, Mere, Salisbury City, Pewsey and Cricklade.

But people at the Westbury Children's Centre say going to the classes is an easy way to make friends and get support.

Everything is in one place. You go for a breastfeeding support group, but then you learn about the sensory room, and other groups. And also because they are council-run, they are free and easy to access.

– Lydia Wiltshire

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Wiltshire Council say the buildings are underused and expect they could save a quarter of a million pounds if they provided the same services elsewhere.

Instead midwives and health visitors would provide the one-to-one help for the most vulnerable parents and classes would move to libraries and church halls.

But parents say it's not that simple.

If the proposed closures go ahead the centres are expected to shut in July. Credit: ITV West Country

In theory it sounds good, and that's exactly what they said in 2016 when they closed Warminster's children's centre.

They said they would continue to provide all of those groups in different venues. But what actually happened was that all of the groups stopped, with the exception of the breastfeeding support group.

So we were left with virtually nothing.

– Nadine Crook

The six centres set aside for closure are supposedly in less deprived areas but the Mayor of Westbury says there are poorer parts of town that need this £22,000 a year building.

It's only £22,000. We know you're short of money. This is an area of high deprivation, this patch round here. I think they could leave the £22,000 where it is.

If they want to target more as well, excellent! But I think taking it away is likely to cause people to miss the opportunities.

– Cllr Ian Cunningham, Westbury Mayor

Parents and children who use the centres are running a petition and are planning to protest outside County Hall in Trowbridge next Tuesday (April 30) ahead of Wiltshire Council's meeting to make a decision on the centres future.