Lancaster Children’s Centres set to close after £1.2m budget cut

Halton library, which currently houses the Children's Centre
Halton library, which currently houses the Children's Centre

A consultation has been launched into the closure of two Children’s Centres in the Lancaster area.

Lancashire County Council is proposing to reduce the number of buildings used to deliver its Children and Family Wellbeing Service “to work within the community in a more flexible way”.

Appletree Children’s Centre and Halton Children’s Centre are on the list.

The budget for the service has reduced by £1.2m following a cabinet decision in January 2018, and the proposal is to cut the number of buildings it uses county wide from 
76 to 57.

Other services delivered in these buildings will not be affected.

Coun Kevin Frea, who represents Halton-with-Aughton on Lancaster City Council said: “Halton Children’s Centre provides valuable support for families with young children at a time when they really need it.

“It is a great shame that Government funding cuts are leading to their closure, and we need to do whatever we can to make the case for them to stay open to serve our local communities.”

Louise Taylor, executive director of adult services, health and wellbeing, said: “We remain committed to providing the best services we can to the people of Lancashire, particularly to the people in our communities who are in greatest need of our support.

“The way the service works has changed. It’s more about providing support direct to people in their home and using locations within the community.

“With this approach, we’re becoming more people focused rather than building based.

“If approved, the proposal would mean we could provide the service from fewer buildings while maintaining the same number of key workers and front-line staff to work with children, young people and families.

“The county council’s financial position remains extremely challenging and we need to look at how we can do things differently.”

To share your views about the county council’s proposals, visit www. lancashire.gov.uk/haveyoursay or complete a written questionnaire. These are available from local children and family wellbeing centres.

The county council will also hold focus groups where the people it supports can share their views.

The consultation closes on Friday August 3.

Louise Taylor, executive director of adult services, health and wellbeing, said: “We remain committed to providing the best services we can to the people of Lancashire, particularly to the people in our communities who are in greatest need of our support.

“The children and family wellbeing service is a key part of our plans.

“The way the service works has changed. It’s more about providing support direct to people in their home and using locations within the community.

“With this approach, we’re becoming more people focused rather than building based.

“We’ll continue to provide our service in a flexible way depending on the type of support people need and deliver sessions at buildings and locations which best suit the children and families we work with.

“The types of issues our key workers get involved with include working with families to help improve young people’s attendance at school or college, ensuring young people get help to tackle substance misuse, and helping children to be more physically active.

“We’ve carried out research on how the service makes a difference to people and looked at how it can become more effective before putting the proposal together.

“If approved, the proposal would mean we could provide the service from fewer buildings while maintaining the same number of key workers and front-line staff to work with children, young people and families.

“The county council’s financial position remains extremely challenging and we need to look at how we can do things differently. What we do and how we support people will not change and we will continue to find the best ways to bring the service to the children and families we support.

“However, it’s vital that people who use the service and partner organisations are given the opportunity to have their say.

“All views will be considered by the county council’s cabinet before it makes its final decision about the proposals in October this year.”

The proposal also includes commissioning support for 12 to 19 year-olds through the voluntary, community and faith sector to support our delivery of services to young people across Lancashire.