On Tuesday 5 February the Strategy and Resources Committee considered how the District Council can minimise the effect of potential changes to the area’s children’s centres proposed by Surrey County Council (SCC) at the end of last year.

SCC has been consulting on a range of proposals that would help it make savings. Current proposals could see children’s centres in the district go from five to one.

At its cabinet meeting on 29 October, SCC confirmed its decision to close all the children’s centres in the district, with the exception of the one in Caterham. It plans to replace those centres with a newly designed family resilience service and has agreed to work with the District Council on the design of this. The Council may ask to be considered as a provider of the new family resilience service once more details about it are available.

The Strategy and Resource Committee also agreed to work with Surrey County Council and other partners, including the voluntary sector and the health service, to see whether some of the valuable services, which would be lost if the centres close, can be provided in a slightly different way.

The Committee supported the motion proposed by the Chair, Leader Councillor Martin Fisher and seconded by Councillor Chris Botten, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, to allocate £75k to this work in the first instance. A further report will be considered at the next meeting on 21 March.

The Committee resolved to ask SCC not to close any centres until appropriate alternative arrangements are in place.

Councillor Martin Fisher, Chair of the Strategy and Resources Committee, said: “Children’s centres provide services which many families in the district, including those who are vulnerable and on low incomes, rely on. We fully appreciate the financial challenges facing Surrey County Council and acknowledge that difficult decisions must be made. We are determined to do what we can to mitigate the impact of these closures and cannot support any changes until appropriate alternative solutions exist.”

All committee meetings are broadcast live and remain available to view on the Council’s website for six months. Visit www.tandridge.gov.uk/webcast.