Twenty-nine children’s centres across the area will close as Derbyshire County Council bids to make savings of £4.7m.
Councillors met today to decide the future of the children’s centres and the way children’s services are offered to families.
Speaking at a meeting, cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Jim Coyle said: “It is with a heavy heart that I put forward this recommendation.
“We faced a difficult decision and had to make a very difficult choice.”
The review looked at how early education, childcare, parenting and family support could be offered more effectively in local communities by working with health, schools and voluntary organisations.
More than 1,264 people gave their views on proposals to close children’s centres which took into account levels of need, the condition and suitability of the building, transport links and which other services were offered in the area.
The budget for children’s services had already been cut from £127m to £90m and by 2019 it will reduce to £68m.
Chair of the meeting Councillor Paul Smith said: “No-one comes into local government wanting to do this. The centres are filled with dedicated staff who are valued by the community but austerity cuts have got the better of us.”
Now more than 143 full time jobs will be lost in Derbyshire.
Centres to close are:
• Arkwright, Bakewell, Belper, Blackwell, Brampton, Brimington, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Chesterfield town centre (Queen’s Park), Clay Cross, Clowne, Coton-in-the-Elms, Crich, Dronfield, Etwall, Harpur Hill, Hasland, Killamarsh, Long Eaton (rural), Newhall, New Mills, Ripley, Sandiacre, Somercotes, South Normanton, Stonebroom, Tupton, West Hallam, Whaley Thorns and Wirksworth.
Councillor Smith added: “We have had a petition with 40,000 names on it from people all over Derbyshire who want to keep services open which I think we should send to the government so they can see the strength of feeling from residents.”
Councillor Caitlin Bisknell, Derbyshire county council’s deputy cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This is a sad day and I wish it wasn’t the case although we have tried to protect the most vulnerable areas and members in those communities.”
Centres which will remain open are:
• Alfreton, Birdholme, Bolsover, Cotmanhay, Creswell, Eckington, Fairfield, Gamesley, Glossop, Hadfield, Heanor, Holme Hall, Ironville, Langley Mill, Long Eaton (urban), Matlock, North Wingfield, Old Whittington, Shirebrook, Staveley and Woodville.
Services at Kirk Hallam Children’s Centre will re-locate to Charnos Family Support Centre in Ilkeston. Bolsover will retain a children’s centre although a new, more suitable venue will be sought.
Alternative community venues will also be sought in Newhall and Sandicare – where staff will be retained – while it is hoped that outreach work will continue in Stonebroom.
Although Belper is to close, discussions will take place with a local voluntary group to continue to run services from the existing building.