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CONFIRMED: Haverhill’s On Track centre to close

Cllr Anne Gower
Cllr Anne Gower

Young mothers and vulnerable people could be left without valuable support following the decision to shut a children’s centre, according to a councillor.

The decision to shut the On Track Centre in Haverhill’s Strasbourg Square was approved by Suffolk County Council at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, January 27.

On Track children's centre - Haverhill ANL-140608-110157001
On Track children's centre - Haverhill ANL-140608-110157001

The centre is to shut but the council intends to merge the services offered with those at the Cartwheels children’s centre in Greenfields Way.

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “This forms part of our ongoing commitment and programme of work to deliver children’s services that fit the needs of families and individuals in the community.

“With greater demands on making savings and using our budgets in the most effective way, we need to make the best use of our assets.

“This review is certainly not about cutting the services we provide to children and their families. This will enable us to use the funding available to deliver the greatest positive impact on children’s lives.”

Cllr Anne Gower, however, opposed the decision.

“I think it’s appalling.” she said. “We are dealing with vulnerable families here, families that are under a lot of pressure.

“Much was made of having the other site open, but these people don’t have so many choices. Having the Cartwheels Centre open is not a lot of good if you live on the Chalkstone. They’re going to be left with little support.”

The centre offers services for new and expecting mothers and their young children, including language development classes, breast-feeding support groups and autism support groups.

Rachel Hollingsworth, 28, used the On Track centre when her daughter was growing up.

“Not a lot of people here can get up to the Clements,” she said, referring to the Cartwheels Centre’s location on the other side of town. “It’s miles to walk and with kids, it’s a nightmare.

“Everyone here will be very disappointed. A lot of my friends have young children and they can’t always get around town.

“Each estate used to have one to support the people there, but now our own one has been taken away. it’s a shame.”

Transferral of services to alternative venues is expected to take place in April.

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