Stroud town mayor Kevin Cranston talked to parents at the Parliament Children’s Centre which is under threat.
Under proposals Gloucestershire County Council wants to redesign family support services in the county, so that money can be reinvested into children’s safeguarding and social work.
It wants to reduce the 39 children’s centres – which support families with children aged 0-5 years – it pays for across the county to 16.
There would be only two such centres in Stroud district – one in Dursley and one in Stonehouse.
The two children’s centres in Stroud in Old Bisley Road and Fiveways in Caincross would become community-run and would not be staffed by professional staff.
At present, these two centres provide a range of services including early years education, health and family support, counselling and a range of groups and courses for parents.
Stroud Town Council has objected to the county council saying it will be a false economy as it will focus only on families with existing problems.
The families using the service agree. Mum Elana Asavei said that the centre has been a lifeline for her.
“I’m a first time mum and coming here has been such a comfort. There is always someone to provide advice and support and it is so friendly,” she said.
“Many mums in this area do not drive or have access to a car,” said mum Jennifer Wright. “By taking away services here you are expecting the new mum with her newborn baby, who desperately needs some breast feeding advice, to travel the 7/8 miles to Stonehouse on a bus service that is currently being ‘slimmed down’ to save money. It won’t work.”
Mum Ruth Fasham said the cuts were short-sighted and were “ghettoising” families who use children’s centre by focusing deprived areas.
“Everyone who has a new baby is vulnerable, wherever they live. Everyone needs a community and a helping hand, even for short time.
“We already run volunteer groups here but we couldn’t run them without the qualified support. If the centre is community run, who is going to pay to heat it and maintain it? It’s not feasible.”
Mayor Kevin Cranston said the proposed cuts were short-sighted and that it was a vital service for young families in the town.
“It is another example of how cuts in public spending impact upon people’s lives and is something that cannot just be left to the voluntary sector. There are still running costs to be covered and centres such as these support families before problems escalate.
“These centres offer universal support and are open to all. Through that approach they are reaching families before problems become major concerns and save the public purse in the long run.”