ANGRY mums have vowed to fight a plan to slash services at a popular children’s centre.
Kirklees Council announced last October that it would be cutting £1.5m from its children’s centres budget.
A consultation period is under way, but the council’s current plan is to reduce services in parts of the district it deems to be “wealthy”.
Children’s centres are to be split into two categories – “lead” and “associate”.
The council’s 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.
In Denby Dale, the centre is set to become an associate of Thornhill – which is almost 10 miles away near Dewsbury.
The move has angered users of the Wakefield Road facility, who have vowed to fight the plan.
Scissett mum of two Alice Cooper said she used the centre’s services up to three times a week.
Mrs Cooper, who has organised a petition against the change, said families would be worse off if the plan was given the green light.
She said: “There’s clearly a need for the services at Denby Dale. I’ve been using them for three years and they’re always packed. I’ve made terrific friends there and they have become a support network locally as my family has grown.
“Most people around here don’t even know where Thornhill is – we feel users of the centres have very different issues.”
Mrs Cooper also said relative wealth should not be used as a factor by which to reduce services.
She said: “Because we’re rural nobody else provides these services – it isn’t about affordability. Higher income levels don’t make you a good parent, you still need support.
“I don’t know a single family with young children who have not been affected by redundancy or shortage of work in recent years. All the mums I know would find it hard to get to Thornhill, it’s nearly 10 miles away and needs several changes of buses.”
And Mrs Cooper said losing access to services could have a detrimental affect on families in the area.
She added: “I’m already told there’s a lot of post-natal depression in this area and new parents could find their lives quite difficult to deal with.”
Kirklees Council’s consultation period on the plan ends on Friday this week and Denby Dale Tory councillor Jim Dodds has already called for people to come forward to show the strength of feeling against the plan.
Clr Dodds said he had checked bus timetables and said it would take a minimum of one hour to travel by bus to Thornhill. And he said he believed an alternative solution would be to merge services with the Holme Valley and create a rural centre.
With Denby Dale library also earmarked for cuts, Clr Dodds revealed local councillors were now working on a plan to bring together different services.
He said: “It’s a work in progress, but we’re meeting to see if we can incorporate the children’s centre, the library and the Savoy Youth Centre.
“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.”
For information see: www.kirklees.gov.uk/comunity/yoursay/familysupportconsultation