Cheshire West and Chester consultation on Children's Centres

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Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) recently held a consultation on "de-registering" five of its Children's Centres, including the Tarvin, Malpas and Farndon Children's Centre which is based at Tarvin Community Centre.
The consultation ended on 28 October and the results of the consultation were reported to CWaC's Children and Education Scrutiny Committee on 17 November. If you would like to watch a webcast of the meeting you can do so via the CWaC website here.

All registered users of the five Children's Centres were consulted, but only 10% of users actually responded. Given that the five Children's Centres under review already have low usage rates compared to other Children's Centres in the borough, it seems that even those who do use them were not generally much concerned about the proposals. A number of public consultation events were held at the various centres, including two at Tarvin, but (incredible as it may sound) apparently NO parents or stakeholders attended any of the events.

The objections to the proposals focussed on parents' or carers' ability to access alternative services, particularly if they do not have access to a car, and on the dangers of greater social isolation if services are not provided. The most used and valued services were those provided by midwives and health visitors, such as the "weigh and play" baby clinics. NB these comments relate to the five centres as a whole, not specifically to Tarvin

The decision on de-registering will be taken by the CWaC Executive in January 2015. They will look at each of the five Children's Centres individually and make a decision as to its future. There will then be a transitional period of a couple of months before deregistration (if agreed) takes place. If the Tarvin Centre is de-registered, CWaC say they will work to ensure that there are alternative services available locally — perhaps the same services as now, but delivered at a different venue or by a different organisation — and that parents and carers have the information they need about what services are available.

The report to the Scrutiny Committee mentioned that Tarvin Community Centre Committee of Management has expressed an interest in taking over the management of the space which the Children's Centre currently occupies in the Community Centre building. This can only happen, however, if the financial conditions are right. The Community Centre Committee of Management looks forward to further discussions with CWaC on this topic.