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Children's centres hit by cuts
One children’s centre will close and three others in the district will operate a reduced service under proposals to cut costs.
As part of Essex county Council’s ongoing attempt to save £215 million by 2015/16, it has proposed cutting £2.5 million from its children’s centres budget.
Under the plans, Little Buddies Children’s Centre in Victoria Road, Buckhurst Hill, will close and services moved two miles away to the Sunrise Children’s Centre in Alderton Hall Lane, Loughton.
Explaining the proposal, the council’s consultation document says: “The reason we have identified this children’s centre for closure is it is in an area of lesser deprivation compared to neighbouring Epping; we are trying to prioritise resources to areas of greater need.
“The site suffers from accessibility issues as it is on a busy high street with limited parking and neighbouring centres in Epping Forest are easier and safer to access.
“Good transport links between Buckhurst Hill and neighbouring centres in Loughton and Debden will also serve to minimise the effects of this closure.”
Three centres will have their opening hours cut from 50 hours a week to 15.
These are Abbeywood Children’s Centre in Waltham Abbey Library, Sun Street, Little Oaks Children’s Centre in Torrington Drive, Loughton, and Little Star Children’s Centre at Shelly Primary School in Milton Crescent, Chipping Ongar.
Essex County Councillor Dick Madden, cabinet member with responsibility for families and children, acknowledged the important role played by the centres, but said cuts to central government funding meant the authority had to act.
He said: “Children’s centre services are an important part of delivering early support for children young people and their families in Essex.
"However the financial challenges we face mean that all services have to be reviewed."
A public consultation is ongoing until December 5.
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