21 Jobs To Go At Sure Start Centres

It's been confirmed 21 jobs will be lost at Sure Start children's centres in Portsmouth - they provide childcare and early learning.

Portsmouth City Council says it needs to save £1.02m from children's centres, because it's lost about a third of its total budget - mainly because of cuts to the funding it gets from the government.

On June the 3rd, the council's ruling cabinet decided the details of how the children's centre savings would be achieved.

It's ruled the city's 16 main children's centres will stay open, and each of them will have either a new-parents group or a stay-and-play group.

Savings will be made by measures including:

* merging administration offices, so nine teams instead of 16 will run the main centres and other services

* increasing the use of volunteers

* not running all activities at all children's centres

* reducing buildings costs, including refurbishment and rent

* reducing the number of managers and other staff to reflect the nine teams

* changing contracts, or supplying contracted services using council staff or health visitors instead

* reducing spending on services such as book bags and new play equipment

* reducing opening hours

The council says its decisions have been shaped by feedback from residents. It carried out a  three-month consultation with residents and staff, including 19 public meetings and a survey filled in by 730 people; and received two petitions with 33 and 600-plus names. It also agreed to consider feedback after the official deadline, including a 1,495-name petition.

Mum Lisa Fletcher has led the campaign to save the Sure Start centres. She told Heart:

"I'm really disappointed because they did say they took on board what the parents wanted.

"But if they did, then they would know that what parents want is not just empty buildings, we need our staff.

"It's the worst thing they could have possibly done, this is the worst time as well. It's not good for our community.

"The fight is going on, we are still campaigning.

"We just want them to listen and meet the needs of our families".

Cllr Rob Wood, Cabinet Member for Children and Education, said:

"This reorganisation will help us to make the savings we have to make, while guaranteeing that every child or parent who needs children's centre services is able to receive them.

"Cutting management and administration has helped us achieve this.

"Residents told us they wanted to keep their services local and we have achieved this, by keeping venues in all parts of the city.

 "Of course, many people are unhappy with the cuts we have had to make. But there was also a view that we should get the best value for money possible at a time of great pressure on public finances.

 "We have tried to focus on the services families get, rather than buildings."

 The changes will be introduced from 9 September.

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