17 November 2015

Consultation starts on children’s centres proposals

Consultation has started on proposals for delivering Brighton & Hove’s children’s centre service in future.

You can give your views online at Brighton & Hove City Council’s consultation portal. 

Paper copies are available in children’s centres, and there will also be meetings with children’s centre users.

The decision to begin consultation on the proposals was made by the council’s children, young people and skills committee on Monday 16 November. The consultation closes on Sunday 20 December.

The proposals are based on the findings of a review board that included parent and voluntary sector representatives as well as public health and NHS experts. The review has also taken into account the consultation the council conducted late last winter.

The proposals seek to make sure that resources continue to be targeted at the children and parents in greatest need. They propose providing a balance of services such as baby groups that all families can access and services including home visits where appropriate for families in greatest need of intensive support.

Families on low incomes are eligible for free childcare places for two year olds.

The plans would see 11 of the 12 children’s centre buildings continuing to be used to deliver services. Seven would continue to be designated as children’s centres, and these would deliver outreach services to the other four sites. The proposal is that Cornerstone community centre will no longer be a children’s centre.

Other proposals include:

  • Offering more parenting talks and discussion groups to reach more parents at an earlier stage
  • Developing a city-wide ‘online children’s centre’ providing access to information and advice on services for families across the city.

Due to budget reductions from central government and increased demand for services the council has to make savings of some £68m in the coming years.

The council’s budget proposals for 2015/16 included a reduction in funding for children’s centres. Following a public consultation temporary funding for 2015/16 only of £670,000 was agreed in order to maintain services.

There is a proposal for a further saving of £176,000 as part of the 2016/17 budget proposals. If agreed the total reduction will be £846,000.

The council’s children, young people and skills committee will consider the results of the consultation when it meets in January.

The chair of the council’s children, young people and skills committee, Councillor Tom Bewick, said: “We need to make sure resources are targeted at the children and families who need them most.

“I would encourage everyone to respond to the consultation so that the committee can take account of people’s views when we make decisions about the future of children’s centres in January.

“With the budget cuts we are facing we have to make some very difficult decisions. Doing nothing is simply no longer an option.”

Further information

The proposals are to continue using the following seven children’s centres as main sites and designated children’s centres:

  • Roundabout (Whitehawk)​
  • Moulsecoomb
  • Tarner​
  • Hollingdean,​
  • Hangleton Park
  • Conway Court (in partnership with Sussex Community NHS Trust)​​
  • Portslade (but with reduced opening hours).

The proposals are to merge the following children’s centres and to continue to use them as delivery points for services. These buildings will only open for children’s centre services when a service is running.

  • ​The Deans (Rudyard Kipling primary school) – merge with Roundabout
  • West Hove (West Hove infant school) – merge with Conway Court
  • Hollingbury and Patcham (Carden primary school) – merge with Hollingdean
  • City View (in partnership with Sussex Community NHS Trust) – merge with Tarner and / or Moulsecoomb.

As part of the changes there will be a review of the existing City View catchment area to consider how it should be divided between Tarner and Moulsecoomb.

The proposal is that Cornerstone community centre will no longer be a children’s centre and the catchment area will merge with Tarner.

Cornerstone is not a council building. The Deans, West Hove and Hollingbury children’s centres are spaces within existing primary schools. The schools will of course not close.