County to merge children’s centres

TWO children’s centres in Eastbourne are set to merge.

The West Rise and Shinewater Centres will combine in a bid to save on management costs.

No staff will lose their jobs as a result of the proposed changes but a number of management posts will not have to be filled.

Director of Children’s Services Matt Dunkley,told the East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet meeting on July 3 that the proposals were about merging the management of the centres not ending the service or closing the centres.

Services from the West Rise centre in Eastbourne will be part of the Shinewater Centre.

Discussions are ongoing, but the intention is the building will continue to be used by the nursery that uses the site and possibly other community activities.

The merger of the two centres is part of a package of four mergers across the county, including Hailsham’s Dunbar Drive centre and Hailsham East Children’s Centre.

The Dunbar Drive building in Hailsham will continue to be used by the county council as a venue for Children’s Centre services, social care resource centre and to support children in care.

Children’s Centre services would continue to be provided on the Dunbar Drive site and from the Diplocks Community Centre which is in a far more appropriate location.

An ESCC spokesperson said, “The proposals are designed to ensure services for families are provided as effectively as possible with resources targeted at the delivery of services rather than management costs.

“Out of a total of 35 discrete centres across the county the management of four pairs of centres will be merged. Most of the centres to be merged with others are small centres not capable of providing the full range of services we need them to. However, those smaller centres will continue to be used as satellite centres providing services for children and families.”

Cllr Nick Bennett, the council’s Lead Member for Learning and School effectiveness, added, “All families who currently receive services from our Children’s Centres will continue to do so, and the vast majority of centres will not be affected in any way by these proposals.”