Children's centre - who will pay?

CONCERNS about the long-term financial future of a planned new children's centre in Clevedon have been voiced by councillors. Clevedon town councillors met with representatives from North Somerset Council to discuss plans to use The Barn as one of 10 new

CONCERNS about the long-term financial future of a planned new children's centre in Clevedon have been voiced by councillors.Clevedon town councillors met with representatives from North Somerset Council to discuss plans to use The Barn as one of 10 new children's centres planned across the district.The authority has won a Government DFES grant of nearly £1 million to develop seven of the 10 planned centres by March 2008.The town council currently own The Barn, which is used as a youth centre and fund it to the tune of around £10,000 a year.The children's centre would be a one-stop shop for children's services and would house early learning and child care teams.It would also be the base for child and family health services, parental outreach and family support services.It would offer childminder support, education and training and be an information and advice point.But councillors say although the Government has funded the start up costs, they are concerned about where the money will come from in the future to maintain services.Clevedon Councillor Carl Francis-Pester said: "We asked the question about the ongoing costs of the new children's centre, but no one could confirm how these would be met."Whereas we think the children's centre is an excellent idea we do not want to be left with a facility which has been extended for use and then left half empty because there is no cash to fund the services."The town council already supports The Barn financially as it cannot solely stand on its own feet."We cannot afford to be financially responsible for any children's centre development."Children's centres already exist in Weston-super-Mare and at Crockerne Primary School in Pill.Other areas identified for children's centres are Backwell, Nailsea, Yatton, Wrington, Clevedon and Long Ashton.A North Somerset Council spokesman said how the children's centres were funded in future depended on the outcome of a Government spending review, due to be published this Autumn.In a report to the council's executive it said: "Any revenue costs arising from the establishment of these children's centres must have a first call on the Children's and Young People Service Directorate Revenue Budget in 2008-9 if they are no longer financed by the DfES 100 per cent Grant from April 2008.


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