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OLRG fights to save Children's Centre

On 11 December 2018, OLRG proposed an emergency measure to save Hurst Green and Holland Sure Start Children's Centre from closure.

Limpsfield Councillor Phil Davies, who is a member of Tandridge District Council's Strategy and Resources Committee, proposed a motion stating:

If Surrey County Council proceeds with its proposal to close 4 of the 5 Sure Start Children's Centres in Tandridge, this Council will provide emergency stop-gap funding to save Hurst Green and Holland Sure Start Children's Centre from closure and will also investigate providing a mobile service for the rest of South Tandridge, while a permanent solution is explored. This is vital to prevent the south of the District from being left without any provision of this crucial family support service.

That proposal was rejected by the Committee but the Council's Chief Executive stated that a report would be put together for the next meeting in January detailing how the Council could get involved in keeping the services that the children's centres provide either with funding to keep one or all of the centres open or, if that wasn't an option, providing services in a different way including making sure there were services in the most rural and vulnerable locations.

Surrey County Council is proposing to close the children's centres as part of its efforts to save £200m over the next three years.

The Hurst Green and Holland Centre, based at Hurst Green Infant School, costs around £110,000 a year to run. It provides a variety of support services for hundreds of families with children aged from 0-4years. It covers a wide area including Oxted, Limpsfield, Tandridge and Godstone where there are over 1100 children in that age group. It's yearly footfall is 7,000 visits.

We believe the Centre provides a vital service to support families in very many ways. It helps to keep families together and connects with local charities, churches and foodbanks to provide food and other necessary household items. It also offers services like breastfeeding support, Stay and Play sessions and other general parenting courses and advice. This helps the most vulnerable families whilst working alongside other professional services. Without this Centre, some families may fall apart. The cost of running it is small and it seems like an excellent investment for the future because it pre-empts problems that may end up costing the community much more later on.

OLRG Councillor, Catherine Sayer, proposed wording to be included in Tandridge District Council's letter to Surrey County Council objecting to the closures which was agreed by the Committee and says:

"This Council strongly opposes Surrey County Council's proposal to close 4 of the 5 children's centres in Tandridge leaving the south of the District without any centres at all. This is wholly unacceptable. Parts of the south of the District have areas with high levels of deprivation and the children's centres provide a vital service to support the most vulnerable families. Apart from the human cost, this is a false economy because these centres pre-empt problems that may end up costing the community much more later on."

Picture shows Christmas presents stacked at Hurst Green and Holland Children's Centre awaiting distribution to families that they are currently supporting. The presents have been supplied by Redhill based charity Stripey Stork. Centre staff have worked with this charity and others, such as the Salvation Army, to make sure the presents are tailored for individual local families