Centres under the spotlight

EAST Sussex County Council has launched a consultation process on proposed changes to three children’s centres in Hastings.

Three sites in Hastings, Churchwood, Red Lake and Silverdale, would be ‘de-designated,’ meaning they will cease to be children’s centres.

But the council states that services would continue to be offered at other sites in the area or they be will offered at different times.

The council says that the new national rules which will increase the number of two-year-olds eligible for free early years education and childcare from September means that it has free up space to cater for this age group.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings, Sarah Owen has criticised the consultation. She said: “Hastings has lost more than its fair share of services from this Government and East Sussex County Council (ESCC).They should be honest about their plans to close three children’s centres in the town. The term ‘de-designation’ means they will cease to be children’s centres and close.”

Tim Fletcher, ESCC spokesman, told the Observer that ‘describing the changes as ‘closures’ would imply that all children’s centre services that have been offered from these sites will no longer be available and that is not the case’. The council also says that six other children’s centres in Hastings will be unaffected by the proposed changes. The consultation runs until Friday, July 18, and can be completed online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/childrens-centre-changes or by writing to East Sussex Children’s Centres, 2nd Floor, St Mark’s House, 14, Upperton Road, Eastbourne, BN21 1EP.