Potential U-turn on plans to close popular Wath children’s centre

Unison members protest at proposed cuts at Rotherham Council outside the Town Hall.
Unison members protest at proposed cuts at Rotherham Council outside the Town Hall.

An under threat children’s centre could be saved from closure after a huge public protest.

Wath Victoria Children’s Centre is listed as one of 13 centres due to be axed by Rotherham Council to meet Government-enforced budget cuts.

But council chiefs are to consider keeping it open after 1,600 wrote to the council and signed petitions demanding it is saved.

An update report on a 12 week consultation to the council’s cabinet revealed a need for “an even geographical distribution and spread of centres.”

Council officers told cabinet members that they should consider keeping open facilities at Dinnington and Wath to meet this demand.

This new proposal will considered when a more detailed report on the implications of the consultation is put forward to the cabinet in the summer. This latest move was being hailed as a victory for people power this week.

Wath-based MP John Healey said he was delighted the centre could remain open, adding: “It means children around Wath will still get the best start in life and parents will still be able to get the great childcare and support the centre offers.

“It’s been the strong support from parents and the detailed work that the centre’s staff have done to demonstrate the need for our Wath children’s centre that has really counted.

“I am pleased the council have listened to some of the concerns raised during the consultation and plan to keep the two extra centres open.”

The council first announced the cuts in January following a reduction in Government funding from the early years and child care service by £2.2 million.

Joyce Thacker, strategic director of children and young people’s services, emphasised no final decision will be made until the final report is considered.

She said: “We have had an excellent response to the consultation proposal. That proposal was based on local levels of deprivation and need but the consultation has quickly revealed that outlying areas also have to be considered from a geographical point of view. If more centres do remain open, such as Dinnington and Wath, we will have to consider how the authority can financially sustain these two buildings.”