Wakefield Council will close 11 children’s centres

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Eleven of the district’s children’s centres will close.

Wakefield Council approved the plans at a cabinet meeting today.

Centres in Castleford, Knottingley, Pontefract, Upton, South Kirkby, Flanshaw, Gawthorpe, Horbury, Wrenthorpe, South Elmsall and Havercroft will now shut.

The decision was made as the council faces £185m in budget cuts during the next five years and must slash £2.5m from its spending on children’s centres.

Coun Les Shaw, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for culture, said: “It has been a long and hard road. Changes of this magnitude are always difficult but it has been proved working out in the community has been very successful.”

Under the proposals, Ash Tree in Castleford, Sycamores in Knottingley, Orchard Head in Pontefract, Upton Children’s Centre, Little Owls in South Kirkby, Michaelmas in Flanshaw, Maypole in Gawthorpe, SmallSteps in Wrenthorpe and Apple Tree in Horbury will close and be transferred to nearby schools.

Sunflowers in South Elmsall could be sold or demolished and Havercroft Children’s Centre will be leased to a private childcare provider.

The council was planning to centralise the district’s 23 centres into six main sites and three “linked” centres offering extra support in deprived areas.

Coun Shaw said: “Hubs are important but the work that is being done in the community seems to be the right way forward.”

Butterflies in Normanton, Sharlston Children’s Centre and the Forrest Wood centre in Crigglestone were among 14 centres set to close but will remain open.

Full report in this week’s paper.