Parents who are worried over a decision to scale down children’s centres in Blackpool have set up a petition over the move.
Members of the Parents Forum at one children’s centre, based at Revoe Primary School, fear vital services will be lost and are also concerned that the close trust built up between staff and vulnerable families could be disrupted or lost if there are redundancies.
So they have set up a paper petition at the Revoe Children’s Centre and want more people in the community to sign it.
In total six children’s centres attached to schools are to be scaled back because they will no longer be funded by government education grants amounting to £1million a year.
Blackpool Council agreed to bring a reorganisation into effect next January in a bid to try and adjust to the loss in funding
One member of Revoe Parents Forum, mum-of-two Emma Swarbrick, 24, of Westmoreland Avenue, Blackpool, said: “So far we have 110 names on the petition – we want to present up to 1,500 names to Blackpool Council to let them know how the community really feels.
“We aren’t happy about the move and we want the council to realise the strength of feeling here.
“The current staff members know the families well and understand the various issues they have, a lot of trust has been built up.
“With these changes, that could all get disrupted, we could lose those staff and lose some of the services which have really helped people.”
There are also fears the children’s centres may no longer cater just for children aged up to four years old, but start to include older children and teenagers, which could lead to some families feeling intimidated by boisterous behaviour.
Rebecca O’Reilly, chairman of the Revoe Parents Forum, said: “We have spoken to the lady who oversees the children’s centres at Blackpool but she told us that at this stage, she is not in a position to talk about staffing or any details about the service.”
The Revoe Parents Forum joined other parents at a demonstration outside the Town Hall, organised by the Blackpool branch of Unison, which is concerned about how the changes will affect up to 25 jobs.
Although none of the six buildings affected will close, the changes will in effect leave just three dedicated children’s centres – in Brunswick and Talbot, Grange Park and Revoe, which are likely to become central hubs for the areas around them.
Despite the concerns, Blackpool Council says the next stage is to consult with the community to ensure the authority understands the services they want and need, and staff would also be being guided through a consultation process.