‘No evidence’ to back town centre’s closure

Daventry East Children's Centre
Daventry East Children's Centre
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Plans to close Daventry East Children’s Centre building and replace it with services in other venues have been “poorly planned and poorly evidenced” according Healthwatch Northamptonshire.

The centre currently provides day care facilities and activities on the Southbrook estate, one of the most deprived areas of the town.

But Action for Children, the charity responsible for running of child care services in the town, claims the building on Benbow Close is no longer fit for purpose.

On Tuesday last week the county council’s cabinet voted in favour of closing the centre and relocating its services at a range of venues, including DSLV community hub and Daventry Library.

But speaking at the September Healthwatch board meeting last week, chairman Professor Will Pope said the organisation would be opposing the moves.

He said: “We are not against change per se. What we don’t like is change that is unplanned, poorly planned or poorly evidenced.”

The Healthwatch board resolved to oppose the closure because it says the county council has provided limited information on how vulnerable families would be affected.

Healthwatch officer Kate Holt said parents of children who use the service are largely against the plans and said the county council has not provided details of the cost of 
renovating the current building.

She said: “It does seem to go against the council’s strategic priorities to delver services to vulnerable people as close as possibly to where they live.

“The centre needs things doing to it for sure – but what they have not come back with is an answer for how much it will cost.”

Speaking at last week’s county council cabinet meeting head of children’s services, councillor Heather Smith, said the closure would allow more money to be used on frontline care for vulnerable families.

She said: “I know this is a particularly difficult subject for the campaigners. But the service is no longer about buildings, it is about using the money we have to help the most vulnerable and a lot of that work must be carried out in their own homes.”