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Handprints of hope for children’s centre
10:00am Friday 1st February 2013 in News
HANDPRINTS of hope have been pressed on a petition to save Ledbury Children’s Centre.
Pre-school youngsters and their parents are hoping the little handprints will save their centre from swingeing cuts or even closure.
More than 100 handprints have been collected so far.
Herefordshire Council is having to make cuts due to the economic climate.
One option is to reduce or change some children’s centre services.
Parents spokeswoman Katie Balson said: “Any further reductions to the children’s budget – and we have already had our budgets reduced once – would impact massively on children and their families.”
Mrs Balson said the centre supported her family when her daughter Eleanor, now aged three, was in a full body cast for several months, due to a dislocated hip.
The centre, at Ledbury Primary School, provided a staff member to accompany Eleanor to and from nursery, and during nursery while Mrs Balson was nursing a newborn baby at home.
She said: “Without the Ledbury Children’s Centre, she would not have been able to go to nursery.”
Now she fears other families might not benefit from such support in future.
She said council cuts were already biting, with a ban in place on buying new equipment, even for craft sessions.
The petition has come about due to parents’ fears over the “vagueness”
of Herefordshire Council’s proposals for cuts, where “reducing some children’s centre services” in the county is a stated possibility.
She said: “We hope Ledbury Children’s Centre will not close, but the wording in the council proposal is very vague.
“The council does not say how it plans to reduce services. We tell the children, if you enjoy coming to the centre, do a handprint.”
Peter Watts, one of Ledbury’s county councillors, said: “I think people have to get used to the idea of further cuts in the near future. I would like that not to include the children’s centres, but all possibilities are open.
“I think the petition is a good idea, for users of the centre to show they are not happy about this situation, and rightly so.”
Councillor Patricia Morgan, Herefordshire Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We are gathering the views of all local residents, businesses and organisations on a range of proposed savings.
“Children’s centre services play an important part of the work we do to support families across the county.
“I’d like to thank the families at Ledbury Children’s Centre for taking the time to share their views with us – their comments will be taken on board as part of the consultation and I look forward to working with them in the future.”