Meeting held over future of centre

The children's centre meeting
The children's centre meeting

Plans to close the Daventry East Children’s Centre on the town’s Southbrook estate have come under fire at a publicmeeting.

The children’s centre, located inBenbow Close on the estate, currently provides care and services for 892 children aged up to five years old.

Action for Children, the group that has taken over the running of children’s services in the district, wish to close the centre because of concerns over the building’s suitability and its cost-effectiveness.

A spokesman for Action for Children, whose representative could not attend the meeting, said:“We are focused on service delivery rather than venues.

“It is expensive to take on the responsibility for it[the building].

“More importantly this large new ongoing cost would take away from frontline service delivery.”

The spokesman added: “It is expensive to run. There are three boilers in the building. The layout is challenging, and complaints have been made to the council.”

Northampton County Council (NCC) has repeatedly stressed the closure of the centre would not constitute a reduction in service, with plans in place to relocate child care facilities to the nearby Southbrook Community hub, the town’s library and Daventry Leisure Centre.

While the new scheme to provide child care was praised by councillors, Cllr Alan Hills, DDC portfolio holder for community, culture and leisure, raised concerns over the choice of Southbrook hub: “We are talking about using a very small building with two or three rooms. To me that is not viable.

“I am concerned because Southbrook is an area of deprivation. The people feel that it is something valuable that is being taken away from the area.

“Many residents won’t travel into town centre to use the services. Single mums often shop at the local shop and don’t go off the estate.”

After the meeting Cllr Hills spoke about the poor turn-out. He said: “There is a lot of apathy about. The public need to realise is that if they attend these meetings they can be heard.”

The consultation will end on August 14 and the findings will go before the cabinet at NCC in September.