Blackpool children's centre decision is 'flawed' union leaders warn

The Unison-led protest outside Blackpool Town Hall
The Unison-led protest outside Blackpool Town Hall
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Changes to the way children's centres are run in Blackpool "will rip the heart out of this vital community service", union leaders have warned.

Caroline Wolf, who works for the service, told a meeting of the full council its new way of operating the centres was "flawed" because it would deny vulnerable families direct access to a vital lifeline.

Ms Wolf, who was speaking out on behalf of colleagues in the local government union Unison, said the changes meant the service would now be more than walking distance away for many people.

She added: "The new structure will also affect our members.

"Some will be losing their jobs, and the service will lose their vital knowledge and skills."

She added the changes were "an attack on the most vulnerable in our society through austerity.

"The imposition of these changes to Blackpool's children's centre provisions will be harmful to local communities because austerity always is."

The council has blamed changes on the way government funds education which means £1m has been cut from its children's centre budget.

It is proposing to retain children's centres at Talbot and Brunswick, Grange Park and Revoe with additional services which all families in the town can use.

Other centres will remain open but will lose their children's centre status and offer fewer services.

Coun Kath Benson, cabinet member for schools, education and aspiration, said the funding cut had forced the council to move to a neighbourhood "hub and spoke" system.

She said trials of the system had been successful and no site closures were planned.

Coun Benson said: "The new model we propose will include a move forward to a centrally funded neighbourhood system with an extended offer in three centres and outreach in the localities remaining."

She added meetings had been held with all affected staff including support to find new jobs where this was necessary.