Hopes to save three more of Bromley’s children’s centres

Parents have heralded plans to save three more children’s centres from the axe.

Under the proposals, double the number of youngsters would have a service within two miles of home.

When central government announced it was slashing council funding in February to curb the national deficit, Bromley proposed to axe 15 of its 18 centres.

It would have meant only 47 per cent of children aged 0-5 would have easy access to a service.

Hundreds of parents objected and signed petitions against the proposals.

Results of a consultation have now been published and are due to be discussed by councillors on Tuesday.

They include new plans to keep six services, which would mean 83 per cent of 0-5 year-olds can attend a centre within a couple of miles of home.

The centres provide advice and support for parents and carerers from pregnancy to when a child starts school.

Emma Martin, chairman of parenting group Bromley’s National Childbirth Trust, said: “To go from 18 centres to three would have been a massive cut. This sounds a lot more positive. Obviously we would like to keep them all but we welcome anything that continues to provide a place of support for parents in Bromley. There are a lot of people who rely on these vital centres.”

The centres which would be saved under the new plans are Community Vision in Penge; Blenheim in Orpington; Cotmandene in Cray Valley West; Biggin Hill; Castlecombe in Mottingham and Chislehurst and Burnt Ash in Bromley.

Mother-of-one Belinda Champion, 32, is delighted that Burnt Ash, could now be saved.

She said: “This is excellent news. I have used that centre since the beginning and it is fantastic. They cater for mums of all ages and are so friendly and supportive.”

The council is now looking at ways to keep the remaining 12 services for children’s use. If they stop being used for children’s services, central government could claw back grants totalling around £12million. Bromley said it would therefore be prudent to keep the centres for children’s services.

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