A council chief has told of his sadness at controversial plans to shut a raft of children’s centres in Derbyshire.
Derbyshire County Council (DCC) will launch a public consultation on cost-cutting proposals to close seven unidentified centres to save £1.1million.
In addition the review is to consider plans to start charging parents to use children’s centres and possible job cuts.
DCC is having to make a number of tough decisions in a bid to slash £157m from its budget over the next four years because of Government cuts.
Councillor Kevin Gillott, DCC’s cabinet member for children and young people said: “We are faced with making devastating cuts to our services which we don’t want to make.
“We’re doing our best to protect services and jobs but the reality is that the huge reduction in our budget – which equates to cutting our spending on Derbyshire families by a third – means there’ll be a significant and detrimental impact on local people.
“At a time when so many families are struggling the last thing we want to do is reduce what our children’s centre offer but we’re having to consider all our options and it’s a very sad situation,” he added.
Children’s centres were set up 14 years ago to provide a number of services including education for under-fives and health and jobs advice for parents.
There are 54 of the centres across Derbyshire based in Chesterfield, Bolsover, NE Derbyshire and the Amber Valley. They cost £8m-a-year to run.
Councillors met on Tuesday to approve the five-week consultation, which will start next Monday and end on June 17.
A DCC spokesman said: “This would give residents the chance to say what they think of centres and how easy they are to get to; what other services are offered in the local area; opening times and availability of the facilities and how well they are provided to children and families most in need.
“Feedback from the review will be used for a follow-up report in the autumn.
“If any centres are earmarked for possible closure a further three-month consultation would take place before a recommendation was made to the council.”
Meanwhile, DCC is to hold another public consultation on the future of care for the elderly in Derbyshire after the collapse of a multi-million pound deal to build hundreds of “five-star” apartments for older people.
Last year, developer Housing 21 signed an £83million contract with DCC to create 800 flats across the county providing round-the-clock care.
However, the council scrapped the deal last week after Housing 21 revealed it could not afford to build nearly 700 of the apartments.
Cllr Andrew Lewer, leader of the Conservatives on DCC, said he was “disappointed” the contract had failed.
He added: “It’s bad news for the Derbyshire economy too as it represented many, many millions of pounds of investment and would have created and supported large numbers of local jobs.”
Cllr Claire Neil, DCC’s cabinet member for adult social care, added: “While it is regrettable, we now have an opportunity to shape the future of housing and support for older people across Derbyshire.”
The review on the future of accomodation and care for the elderly will start shortly.
To take part in the talks, visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk.