The campaign to save Wellington Children’s Centre in Courtland Road from the threat of closure is being supported by a petition started by local mum Rachel Condick and parents who use the centre. 650 signatures have already been added.
Rachel, who also spoke at the town council meeting this week, has urged everyone who supports the centre staying in Wellington to send that message to Somerset County Council. “I’m asking everyone to send an email to FamilySupportService@somerset.gov.uk, “said Rachael.”Use the title – Save Wellington Children’s Centre – and write why you think it shouldn’t close, have you used their services etc, and how it will effect you.
“When becoming a parent you can sometimes feel isolated but having the children’s centre and the wonderful staff that work there helps. Why would Somerset County Council want to remove a service that is working, a service that provides face-to-face support for many families in the town? The town’s housing is increasing which ultimately means more families … families who don’t want to travel to a neighbouring town or have their services cut.”
The children’s centre is part of SCC’s getset Services and provides family support and advice on a wide range of childcare issues including housing, special educational needs and managing behaviour. It was opened in 2007 and was rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted in its last inspection.
In September this year SCC launched a consultation process to evaluate reducing the number of Sure Start children’s centres across the county from 24 to 8. Currently, Taunton Deane has 6 centres but the proposals under review would see that number reduced to two ‘family centres’, both in Taunton – Acorns Children’s Centre in Roman Road and Hillside in Eastwick Road. The other 4 centres would be ‘de-designated’.The Labour-led council set up 41 children’s centres in Somerset 12 years ago.
The future of the Wellington Children’s Centre is under review at the same time as other public services in the town are threatened. Wellington Community Hospital is one of 13 units across the county under scrutiny as SCC evaluates the options for delivering sustainable inpatient services and the Wellington-based Somerset Skill and Learning (SS&L) faces the consequences of what was initially a 97% reduction in its budget. It has since recovered £2 million in lost funding but faces losing a third of its staff and the closure of six centres. SS&L chief executive Susan Simon-Norris said: “We have no choice – the funding cuts have left us in a very difficult position.” SS&L employs 200 staff and currently provides courses for 10,000 students.