Plans to merge two Children’s Centres approved by county

PLANS to merge Battle and Robertsbridge Children’s Centres have been approved.

Earlier this week, East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet approved a plan to merge the management of the two centres following consultation with families who use the facilities.

But the council says the merger is just a formality and will not mean a cut in service.

Director of Children’s Services, Matt Dunkley, told the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the proposals were about merging the management of the centre, not ending the service or closing the centre.

He said Robertsbridge was a small centre not capable of providing the full range of services, but the centre would continue to provide services for children and families.

ESCC has also approved the merger of other centres across East Sussex.

The Pebsham centre will merge with Sidley, two separate Eastbourne centres will merge, along with two centres in Hailsham.

No staff will lose their jobs as a result of the merger.

Cllr Nick Bennett, the council’s Lead Member for Learning and School Effectiveness said: “This is really about making sure all our separately designated centres are fit for purpose, are in the right place, and can all really provide the best range and quality of facilities and services for young families.

“At the moment we have a number that cannot do that.

“All families who currently receive services from our Children’s Centres will continue to do so, and the vast majority of centres will not be affected in any way by these proposals.”

He added: “I would like to repeat what I said when we first published these proposals and stress that these are not cuts to services.

“These proposals are about using our Children’s Centre buildings more efficiently and effectively.

“There is a clear and reasonable rationale for each of the mergers we are proposing, especially for those smaller centres that are currently not really individual centres at all and not capable of providing the kind of services we want.”

Cllr Sue Prochak, who represents Robertsbridge on Rother District Council, said: “There was a great deal of concern here in Robertsbridge as the wording in the consultation led us to believe that the merger meant we would lose a popular well-attended provision here in Robertsbridge.

“However on further inquiries it was made clear that the merger was in name only and that the provision would continue here.

“The good thing to come out of this initial concern was that parents realise the value of the Children’s Centre here in Robertsbridge.”