The services at four children’s centres in Kingston will be remodelled to create more family-focused hubs starting from this June, the council has announced.
The plans were announced at the Children’s and Adult’s Care and Education Committee meeting last week after a seven-week consultation period.
Services at Norbiton and Surbiton will be delivered at local outreach sites from June this year, while centres at New Malden and North Kingston will be revamped from April 2020.
In a statement, Councillor Diane White, portfolio holder for Children’s Services including Education, said she hoped the community would benefit from the new plans.
“We acknowledge that children’s centres should meet the needs of all our residents, especially our most vulnerable, and we will work hard to achieve this,” she said.
A survey conducted by the council of 744 residents in the borough showed that only 1.7 per cent used the Norbiton centre the most. The other centres rated higher with New Malden at 11 per cent, Surbiton at 13.5 per cent and North Kingston at 18.8 per cent.
Families who participated in the survey also said they were positive about the activities on offer and the support they received from the staff at the children’s centres.
The survey also revealed that residents were keen to broaden the age range of children who could access activities during the school holidays. The council intends to pilot this scheme during the summer.
Despite assurances from the council, Councillor Kevin Davis, leader of the opposition, took to Twitter to denounce the plans.
Totally outrageous. At budget council they said they would save Childrens centres as they found a way to make savings elsewhere. They clearly have not just U turned but blatantly lied at a council meeting. @CoombeMonthlyEd @KingstonLibDems @CourierKingston @Jackie_News https://t.co/SIE3e5Eqgs
— Kevin Davis (@kevinjdavis) 21 March 2019
Community campaigner and journalist James Giles also criticised the move in a tweet after the meeting last Thursday.
Tonight @kingstonlibdems want to close four of Kingston’s children’s centres, for a measly saving of £35,000 – Betraying families and breaking their promises. We can do better than this.
— James Giles (@CoombeMonthlyEd) 21 March 2019
The council has said it would work together with local communities to support the transition.