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Medway Council announces new proposals for Sure Start Children's Centres

By Jade Edwards

Medway Council has listened to the views of concerned mums and are proposing to keep 13 out of 19 children’s centres open.

Earlier this year councillors voted to launch a public consultation into plans to replace all 19 Sure Start centres across the Towns with four superhubs and satellite centres.

More than 900 people took part in the six week consultation, which included 42 community and professional meetings.

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Mums and Kids protesting against the closure of Sure Start Centres outside Medway Council in Dock Road, Chatham back in May

Mums and Kids protesting against the closure of Sure Start Centres outside Medway Council in Dock Road, Chatham back in May

The council has now put forward another proposed model which is due to be discussed at a cabinet meeting next Tuesday.

The new model would see the creation of four children and family hubs. The hubs would be supported by nine children and wellbeing centres, which will be run out of existing Sure Start centres.

There will also be additional outreach work in the community, and in people’s homes.

VIDEO: Six centres could be closed

The children and family hubs would be located at Gun Lane Children’s Centre and Strood Youth Centre, All Saints in Chatham, Wayfield in Chatham and Woodlands in Gillingham.

The proposed sites for the wellbeing centres are at St James’ in Grain, Bligh in Strood, Delce, Lordswood, Oaklands in Walderslade, Saxon Way in Gillingham, Hand in Hand at Twydall, Deanwood in Wigmore and Riverside in Rainham.

Cllr Andrew Mackness

Cllr Andrew Mackness

The centres would deliver universal health services as well as targeted support based on each communities needs.

If the proposal is agreed at cabinet the model could be in place by early 2018.

Under the new proposal up to 15 members of staff may be made redundant.

Cllr Andrew Mackness, Medway Council’s head of children’s services, said: “Providing support and opportunities for Medway’s children remains a key priority for the council.

“We have had some tough decisions to make following changes in government funding.

“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to submit feedback or come along to one of the sessions to find out more information about the proposals.

“We have listened to the public’s feedback and used this to design a model for out early help services that best meets everyone’s needs and can achieve the £1.6 million that we are required to save.”

Ian Sutherland Medway Council's director of children and adult services

Ian Sutherland Medway Council's director of children and adult services

He added: "We're looking to provide outstanding services in everything we do. We are working very hard to do that with the monies we have to spend we intend to do that across all of children's services.

"We have some outstanding examples of practice and we want to build on that to make sure young people and families get the best possible service from Medway Council."

Ian Sutherland, director of children and adults services, said: "We've listened really carefully to what people have said and by retaining the nine child and family wellbeing centres we're going to have a geographical spread that continues to offer people easy access to these types of services."

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