Lincoln mum calls for council to cancel Sure Start Centre closure plans

A letter from a mum of three calling for Lincolnshire County Council to reconsider plans to close 15 Sure Start centres in the county has been backed by nearly 2,000 supporters.

Lincoln mum Helena Mair started an online petition three days ago to save the centres at risk of closure across the county, reaching 1,718 signatures.

Centres around Lincoln threatened with closure are in North Hykeham, Waddington, Washingborough, Cherry Willingham, Witham St Hughs, and Sturton by Stow.

Other Sure Start Children’s Centres in Boston, Sleaford and Grantham also face being shut down.

The council has said that all services it provides will see spending reductions as part of £42 million worth of savings planned for the upcoming financial year.

Helena Mair said: “Sure Start Children’s Centres provide support to families when they need it most.

“They are an essential support network in promoting child development and school readiness in more disadvantaged families.

“In fact, there is evidence that early intervention by Sure Start can benefit the lives of children and their families, with more positive future outcomes.”

Lincoln mum Louise Milns said: “Many new parents feel isolated once their partners return to work and these centres are a real lifeline, getting them out of the house, keeping them sane and probably reducing post-natal depression before it has time to take hold.

“I have relied on the children’s centre and I know many others who have too.”

Sasha Orsmond from Washingborough added: I’m signing because Sure Start centres in my local area are what got me out of my house most days of the week with both my boys.

“I feel less deprived areas are suffering just because the vast majority of parents are working and earning a good wage. We are then expected to travel to more deprived areas as they cannot afford to travel.

“Both me and my children have made friends for life via the Sure Start centres in Washingborough and Waddington.

“Please don’t take this opportunity away from future parents to be.”

Patricia Bradwell, lead member for children’s services at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “As the council has to find around £42m of savings next year alone, all service areas are seeing budget reductions for next year and beyond.

“As a result there are currently proposals for the reduction of funding for children’s centres.

“If this is accepted then one of the options to be considered is to close phase three centres, which wouldn’t affect those families and children in our most deprived communities, where there is a real need for support.

“This, and any other options, would need to go out to statutory consultation.”

The council’s budget proposals are set to be discussed at a meeting on February 19.

Helena’s petition can be found online.