Ray of hope for threatened children’s centre as councils begin discussions on future

PUBLISHED: 14:00 30 March 2018

Banwell Community Centre and Children's Centre.

Banwell Community Centre and Children's Centre.

Archant

A children’s centre which faces critical services being axed in a cost-cutting review could receive a lifeline after ‘tentative’ talks to secure its future began.

Banwell Children’s Centre has been earmarked for cuts by North Somerset Council, which delivers services at the venue amid growing budget pressures.

But Banwell Parish Council is exploring a different plan with the hope of providing ‘needed’ services for years to come.

A public meeting on the future of the children’s centre, off West Street, was held on March 15 – where it was revealed the authorities had launched talks over the centre’s future.

Parish councillor Paul Blatchford, chairman of the working party on the children’s centre, said: “Whatever else, we will do our darndest to make sure children’s services continue in this building, and we will do our darndest to make sure our youth club continues to function in here.

“Whatever way you look at it, there is probably going to be a level of cost falling on the parish.

“But I think everyone recognises there is a need, and we have to try to meet it.”

The meeting was called after North Somerset announced its plans to ‘significantly reduce’ services available at Banwell Children’s Centre in a bid to balance its books with Government funding dwindling.

North Somerset must save £135,000 in the new financial year from its children’s centre budget.

It hopes to make most of the savings by cutting staff, but it also is seeking to reduce the £26,000 it pays for the building each year.

Council community family leader Jenie Eastman said: “It’s a situation none of us want to find ourselves in. We have spent 15 years building children’s centres in North Somerset, so to now have to start shaving off them again and again is really hard.

“There has been a really strong response, with lots of articulate points from families.

“We have worked with the parish council to see if there is another solution. We want to achieve the same thing; we want to keep quality services going.”

North Somerset and the parish council will hold another meeting to clarify a definitive plan after a consultation on the proposals concludes next month.

To have your say, visit www.consult.n-somerset.gov.uk/consult.ti

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