PARENTS and children have just an hour to try and save services at popular children’s centres.
Kirklees Council announced last October that it would be slashing £1.5m from its children’s centres budget.
Now officials have drawn up a plan to reduce services in the wealthier parts of the district to help cope with the public spending squeeze.
It means cutting £630,000 this financial year, with another £800,000 reduction in 2012/13.
The plan is to split children’s centres into two categories – “lead” and “associate”.
The council’s current proposal is for 15 lead centres in deprived areas offering a full range of support and advice on issues including health, education, domestic violence and teenage pregnancy.
The other 17 children’s centres would be scaled back to offer fewer services.
Now a series of one-hour public meetings are being held to let people have their say.
Officials have also set up a survey on the Kirklees Council website.
Denby Dale Tory, Clr Jim Dodds, said his local centre was set to become a satellite centre to one at Thornhill near Dewsbury.
Clr Dodds said he wanted as many people as possible to come to next week’s session to show the strength of feeling against the plan.
He said: “I don’t think one hour is enough and I’ve asked Kirklees officers for a meeting to have a look at the proposals further.
“Children’s centres are expensive but they do a fantastic job.
“We have a very successful centre and it’s got a lot of activities going on. Just because Denby Dale is viewed as an affluent ward is no reason to cut it.
“We’ve still got pockets of poverty and with more and more people losing their jobs we need to make sure we don’t lose the ability for people in Denby Dale ward to access facilities.”
Clr Dodds said the proposal to make the Wakefield Road centre an associate to one at Thornhill had not yet been explained properly.
And he said he had asked to meet children’s centre officers to talk about his counter-proposal of launching a rural centre.
He added: “There’s nothing laid down in concrete on exactly how it’s going to work.
“It’s not clear if they will send mini-buses out to us or if we will have to travel over there.
“I think rather than being associated with Thornhill we should be associated with Grange Moor and the Holme Valley.
“We should have a rural children’s centre.
“I think it would be better to look at a rural outcome as it’s much easier for people to get to somewhere like Holmfirth than to Thornhill.”
The meeting is on December 14 at 9.15am at The Skelmanthorpe Youth and Community Centre.
Other consultation meetings can be found at http://kirklees.gov.uk/community/yoursay/familysupportconsultation.shtml