Rally planned against move to close many of West Sussex’s children and family centres

A rally against the proposed closure of many children and family centres across West Sussex is planned outside County Hall in Chichester tomorrow (Tuesday July 27).

Monday, 26th July 2021, 2:54 pm
A rally is due to be held outside County Hall tomorrow morning to protest against the proposed closure of many of West Sussex's children and family centres

West Sussex County Council’s Conservative cabinet is set to decide on a revised early help service offer.

According to the council its offer has been inconsistent and a focus on improving outcomes for those most in need has ‘been diluted’ by the extent of universal services being supported, many of which it claims can continue without that support.

The majority of children and family centres would close if the proposals are agreed, with only 12 of 43 remaining.

The separate Find it Out youth advice centres would also shut.

This has been the most contentious element of the proposals and campaigners have organised a protest to be held just before the cabinet meeting outside County Hall at 9.15am.

Caroline Baxter, deputy leader of the Labour group, said “Our children’s centres are essential to the safety and wellbeing of so many families in our communities across the county.

“During the local elections, dozens of borough, district and county councillors pledged to support the campaign to keep the centres open. The public are absolutely against this move. During the recent consultation, 71 per cent of respondents supported the option to keep the centres open during the consultation but this has been sidelined in a short-sighted effort to save money. The cabinet must reverse this proposed decision and support the parents and children of West Sussex on Tuesday.”

Carl Walker, a Labour Councillor from Worthing started a petition against the closures and is a community psychologist who works with children and families.

He said: “This rally is a final opportunity for the many people in West Sussex to let the Conservative cabinet know that they are making a huge mistake. Over 10,000 people signed our petition to save these centres.

“If the cabinet make this decision, they will be damaging the chances of many children in West Sussex and they will be directly ignoring the strong public feeling against these closures.”