Children’s centres face closure as Surrey Tories publish plans to slash public services

November 1, 2018 9:53 PM

Surrey Cuts Map

Public services in Guildford face devastation under £200 million of cuts planned by the Conservative administration at Surrey County Council. Two out of the five children's centres in Guildford borough will be closed and one of the remaining ones will see services reduced as it's downgraded to the status of a 'satellite centre'.

Boxgrove Children's Centre, which serves Burpham, Merrow, much of the town centre and the villages in the east of the borough, will be closed completely (including its outreach venues in Ripley and Horsely). An online petition to save Boxgrove children's centre has already been started by local campaigner George Potter.

In Tongham St Paul's C of E Sure Start Centre will also be closed, while Ash Grange Children's Centre will be downgraded to being a satellite centre with only limited services available. Instead, families in the west of the borough will expected to travel to the Spinney in Park Barn for most services.

Outside the borough the Brookwood Sure Start centre will also close, affecting families living in Worplesdon, Pirbright and Normandy.

Residents can find out more about the cuts, and tell the council what they think about them, via the online consultation.

The Liberal Democrats have warned this will leave many parents with young children unable to access children's services at all. Lib Dem spokesperson Cllr Fiona White said:

"I am appalled at these cuts. There are many parents who will struggle to access services if forced to travel long distances on public transport, especially those who are disabled or are on low incomes. These cuts will leave families isolated and alone without the support they need.

"This will have a knock-on effect on the NHS and local schools. We know that children's centres are vital for early intervention - not just with parenting and child health issues, but also through providing emotional support to parents as well as advice on issues like housing, finances and employment.

"Without that early intervention the issues that children's centres help with will end up becoming issues for already overstretched schools to deal with instead. The damage these cuts will cause cannot be overstated and they must be stopped."

In addition to the closures of 31 children's centres across the county, Surrey County Council also plans to 'top-slice' the budgets of local schools and to raid their cash reserves to help make up for cuts elsewhere.

Other services under threat are community recycling centres (with plans to close between 4 and 6 across the county), libraries, concessionary bus passes for disabled people and their carers, children's services (facing £27 million of cuts) and adult social care for the elderly and disabled (facing £25 million of cuts).

Surrey County Council also plans to cut £12 million from the budget for highways which covers road repairs and subsidised bus routes.

The Liberal Democrats have produced a county-wide interactive map of the major cuts that are known about so far, which can be viewed below: