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Stay of execution for Haverhill children’s centre

On Track children's centre - Haverhill
On Track children's centre - Haverhill

The decision to close Haverhill’s On Track childrens’ centre has been successfully challenged and will be reconsidered by the council.

The decision was called in for consideration at Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee on February 11.

The vote on whether the decision should be sent back to the council was split 50/50, with Councillor James Finch, the chairman of the committee, casting the deciding vote in favour of reconsidering the decision.

Cllr Bryony Rudkin was amongst those who had been pushing to keep the childrens’ centres open.

“I really hope this turns into a long-term victory,” she said. “There wasn’t enough evidence that shutting down the centres would be beneficial and we questioned the quality of the evidence that was presented.

“It wasn’t clear whether closing them was to help with finances or to help with the progression of childrens’ services. I suspect it was more about finances.

“There was no evidence that closing the centres would help and, to make the leap that we should shut them is unfounded.”

Haverhill councillor, Anne Gower recently stepped down from her position on the county council, but had been a vocal opponent of shutting the centres.

“I think it’s a huge victory,” she said. “If it results in the On Track centre being saved, I’m delighted. I’m just holding out for this last glimmer of hope.”

The next debate on the future of children’s Centres will be at the Cabinet meeting on February 24.

“We will be campaigning about the centres,” added Cllr Rudkin. “We know that, without them, people will be very concerned. We’re determined to argue on those people’s behalf. We know how valuable these services are.”

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