Councillors have voted to close four “under-used” children’s centres but keep eight others open.

Redbridge Council said the decision to prioritise the eight main ‘hub’ sites was made despite sustained funding cuts from central government forcing it to consider a redesign of the service earlier this year.

But four “underused” satellite centres at Winston Way in Ilford; Chadwell in Grove Road; Forest in David’s Way, Hainault and Oakdale in Oakdale Road will all close in September.

These currently provide 32.5 hours of childcare each week, with more than two thirds at Winston Way.

The authority has had to plug a £650,000 funding gap in its finances but has decided to prioritise the main centres after consulting residents on its plans.

In neighbouring Waltham Forest, four children’s centres have already closed, seven have gone in Barking and Dagenham, seven in Havering, 11 in Newham, and 12 in Tower Hamlets.

Since 2010, national cuts to local government budgets have forced Redbridge Council to find £166 million of savings, nearly 60 per cent of its overall budget.

The council has decided to charge partners for any use of the centres when they put on sessions to tackle the shortfall in funding.

The authority has also approved proposals to offer free access to all services for every family for the first sixth months after a child’s birth.

For families who qualify for free childcare for two year olds, families supported by domestic violence refuges and families supported by the council’s Early Help and statutory Safeguarding Services, the access will continue to be free after those first six months and will continue to be free throughout the child’s first five years.

For some families, after the council provides free access to services for those first six months, from that point onwards, the council will continue to subsidise over 80 per cent of the costs for each session that they access.

This means that after those first six months, for some families, they will be asked to pay a flat fee of around £2 per family so they can continue to access sessions run by the children’s centres.

There will also be a staffing restructure at the remaining centres, which will include significantly reducing the number of managers.

Cllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “In Redbridge, we completely value our children’s centres and the services they provide to our communities.

“But the reality we face is a hugely challenging financial situation and we could no longer protect the whole service from the government’s irresponsible cuts.

“We said no final decisions would be made until the results of our consultation and we’ve delivered on that pledge.

“The final shape of the service reflects the feedback we received from residents and we will be providing the best possible and most sustainable service given the budget constraints.

“It also means our residents will still benefit from the most comprehensive children’s centre network in east London.

“The timetable for the changes is being managed to give families who use the satellite centres the greatest benefit over the summer holidays.”