Norwich City Council Cabinet Response

Yesterday evening, Norwich City Council’s cabinet met to discuss the proposals put forward by Norfolk County Council to close children’s centres across Norfolk.

The chairman understands that budget cuts from central government are making the problem an acute one, but the reduction in Norwich is a massive one. The chair says how vital these centres are.

The council feels the proposals are very instrumental, and has lots of information missing, and doesn’t address for example how a new mother who just moved into the area would access the support needed and it would affect their social mobility.

The city council feels that they, along with other council’s should have been given advance notice of these proposals, and the city council is apposed to the closures – they would welcome discussion with Norfolk County Council and would like to work with them to create a sustainable future service, and the County Council now has the opportunity to do that.

The fact the proposals talks about using community centres is an issue for Norwich City Council, as they were not talked to in advance about use of their buildings, but they would have been open to having these discussions.

On the Wensum ward for example, it was said the centre has been important, and any virtual service wouldn’t work across the city. Evidence shows, following research carried out in the wards these centres are important, they can pick up issues early and investigate problems. Removing that will be detrimental – it will also result in greater expense in later years.

The proposals are full of gaps and not thought through, and the city council will be submitting this report to Norfolk County Council as their official response to the consultation. The city council would like to have open discussions with Norfolk County Council to take the service forward.


Report Summary:

Purpose:
To consider and confirm the council’s response top Norfolk County Council’s consultation on proposals to redesign children’s centres and early childhood ad family services.

Recommendation:
To approve the council’s response to Norfolk County Council’s consultation on proposals to redesign childrens centres and early childhood and family services as described in the report.

Uncertainties/unknowns:

  • Who owns the buildings?
  • Is there appropriate and sufficient capacity within proposed locations?
  • Knowledge of level and focus of relevant children and family provision
  • Are services going to be allocated to localities of greatest need or universally allocated across the county irrespective of the evidence?
  • How partners will be engaged?
  • Capacity and willingness of VCSE sector. (voluntary, community and social enterprise)
  • Ability to deliver the new model by November 2019
  • How to integrate the various advice and guidance provision
  • What happens to children centre nurseries – the consultation is silent on these
  • Impact on city council owned buildings used by childrens centres

Impact statement:

  • Economic :-:
    – Finance = negative
    – Economic development = negative
    – Financial inclusion = negative
  • Social :-:
    – Safeguarding children and adults = negative
    – Human rights act = negative
    – Health and well being = negative
  • Equality and diversity :-:
    – Advancing equality of opportunity = negative
  • Environmental :-:
    – Transportation = negative

Recommendations from impact assessment:
Negative – The proposals which appear that they will lead to a reduction in early years provision could result in decreased social mobility and reduced life chances in later life for children in some of the city’s most deprived communities.


You can view the full report by clicking here.

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