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Councillor hits out over children's centre consultation
A councillor has criticised a public consultation over the future of children’s services.
Essex County Council needs to save £215m by 2016, and has earmarked the closure and amalgamation of children’s centres as a way to save £2.5m.
But Cllr Leon Girling, who represents Loughton Broadway and who has suggested the savings could be better made in other areas, is now concerned parents in the district are not being supplied with sufficient information about the consultation process.
Cllr Girling said: “The families the services are aimed at are the disadvantaged, which could include people who don’t have a good understanding of English or who have no access to the internet.
“All the documents are in English and there are not enough paper copies to go round the families using the services.
"The county council should know the audience it is catering for."
An Essex County Council spokesman said: "The majority of people usually opt to contribute to the children’s centre consultation online.
"For those that do not have internet access we have provided over 250 hard copies to children’s centres in the West of the county to use.
"More can be provided should the children's centre provider require them."
He added: "We have developed a number of translated copies which are currently being sent out to children’s centres."
Cllr Girling said more information should be given about why specific centres had been put forward for closure. He has now asked for the issue to be discussed at the district council’s next overview and scrutiny committee meeting later this month.
He added: “I am surprised how quiet other councillors have been on the issue.”
Under the plans, Little Buddies children’s centre in Victoria Road, Buckhurst Hill will close, with its services moving two miles away to the Sunrise children’s centre in Alderton Hall Lane, Loughton.
Three other children’s centres will have their opening hours cut from 50 hours a week to 15. They are Abbeywood children’s centre, based at Waltham Abbey Library in Sun Street, Little Oaks children’s centre in Torrington Drive, Loughton, and Little Star children’s centre, based at Shelly primary school in Milton Crescent, Ongar.
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