Plans to close children’s centres which critics say will force children into poverty are one step closer to becoming a reality.

A restructure of early years education delivery has been agreed by Essex County Council’s cabinet in a bid to save £2.3m.

The ECC cabinet decided in a meeting last week that the proposal which will close some centres and slash opening hours at others, will actually improve the service.

Steven Neville of Rous Road in Buckhurst Hill met with Green Party leader Natalie Bennet to discuss the closures last night.

Mr Neville who created a petition against the cuts says that the fight in Epping Forest is not over yet.

He said: “We will push the petition to the council to make sure that it is noted in the full council meeting.

“They have simply ignored the consultation. Why did they do it if they were not going to listen?

“This is going to hit the people in social need the hardest. Not just financially but the support network for people who need the centres.”

Little Buddies in Buckhurst Hill will be closed under the plans along with two sites in Harlow.

There will be three main sites in the district at Brambles Children’s Centre in Epping, Hazelwood Children’s Centre in Waltham Abbey and True Stars Children’s Centre in Chigwell.

Opening hours at designated delivery sites will be open slashed to 15 hours per week.

They will be at Abbeywood Children’s Centre in Waltham Abbey,
Little Oaks Children’s Centre in Loughton and Little Star Centre’s Centre in Chipping Ongar.

Some of the benefits alleged by cabinet members included ‘greater flexibility
with regard to staffing’ and ‘targeted front line work’  as well as reduced utility bills.

The Cabinet Member for Adults Social Care John Aldridge welcomed the cuts stating that they would ‘improve the service’.

It was agreed in the meeting that the number of hours given to each centre at the moment is a minimum which could change to respond to local needs.

The proposals must be put before a full council before they are agreed.