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Jun 26 2012

Harrow Opens Another Childrens’ Centre

Despite severe financial pressures and significantly reduced Government funding, Harrow Council is bucking the trend by celebrating the opening of its 16th children’s centre this week.

The local authority has managed to not only safeguard the future of each of its established children’s centres, but also open new ones – much to the delight of local parents, carers and children.

Children’s centres across the country used to be funded from ring fenced Government Surestart grants, but this has been replaced by a much reduced Early Intervention Grant, prompting the closure of centres across the country. Harrow Council has had to make savings of more than £1million on children’s centres following the department of education’s funding change. This has been done by introducing an innovative, new way of using the centres and working with residents to tailor the services they need locally at each centre.

This Friday 29th June, Harrow residents will celebrate the opening of its 16th and final planned centre, Earlsmead, in South Harrow with a community party, face painters, local cheerleaders and a commemorative plaque unveiling.

Portfolio holder for Children, Families and Schools, Cllr Brian Gate said: “We had to make savings of more than £1million on children’s centres following the department of education’s funding change. Despite this we were determined to protect and develop our centres for future generations and a consultation with our residents last summer only served to reinforce this ambition. We managed to do this by coming up with an innovative way of using the centres more efficiently. The introduction of a new ‘hub and spoke model’ which means a number of key centres are designated hubs that remain open throughout the day with other ‘satellite’ centres opening when classes and activities are taking place. This allows the council to make considerable savings by reducing administration, overheads and back room costs.”

Harrow Council came up with the plans following a consultation with parents, and residents’ between May and August 2011. As many as 525 people filled in a survey and took part in focus groups.

Source: Harrow Council

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