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Council to consult on closing Glusburn children’s centre

Wednesday, 1 March 2023 13:55

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

A Sure Start children’s centre in Glusburn could close under cost-cutting proposals by North Yorkshire County Council.

The council will launch a consultation on closing South Craven Children’s Centre, which opened in April 2011 at Glusburn Community Primary School, as well as four other children’s centres in the county. 

The centre was backed with £676,431 of government Sure Start funding but did not reopen following the pandemic.

It was being used as office space for Harrogate and District NHS Trust staff and it has also been as a meeting space for families in the area.

A report will go before councillors next week that says the closure would save the council £12,600 a year.

It also says some children’s services have moved online which has reduced the need for the facility. 

Because the centre was backed with capital funding, the government could ask for the money back.

However, the authority says it has been approached by a private nursery provider about leasing the premises, which would mean the building would still offer early years provision.

It could also generate an annual rental income of £6,000.

What was Sure Start?

Sure Start was a flagship policy of Tony Blair’s Labour government and was launched to improve children’s life chances, with local authority-controlled centres set up to support early learning for children under five.

However, since the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government and the introduction of austerity measures, over one thousand Sure Start centres have closed.

Between 2014 and 2016, NYCC closed 13 children’s centres with a total Sure Start government investment of £3,643,140, which it was not required to pay back.

Savings for the council

Children’s centres in Kirkbymoorside, Pateley Bridge, Eastfield and Askrigg are also recommended for closure or to be repurposed in the latest consultation, which would save the council a total of £138,000 according to the report. Councillors will meet next Wednesday to discuss the proposal.

Stuart Carlton, NYCC’s corporate director of children and young people’s service, wrote: “The buildings proposed for de-designation were not used during the pandemic due to low frequency of use and have not re-opened whilst previous levels of service delivery have continued through alternative service delivery offers including community buildings and outreach.

“Rationalising the number of buildings will enable greater integration of service delivery alongside achieving savings.”

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