PARENTS have appealed for a rethink on plans to close a children’s centre in Wheatley.
They said shutting down the Maple Tree Children’s Centre in Littleworth Road, which is currently available to 11 other villages, would be “tragic”.
As reported in the Oxford Mail, Oxfordshire County Council is proposing to close children’s centres across the county to save £6m, as part of wider savings of £88m that need to be made by 2018.
The proposals set to be consulted on would mean all 44 of Oxfordshire’s children’s centres and its seven early intervention hubs would be replaced with eight ‘family and resource centres’.
Mum-of-one Vicky Job, 23, said getting information on the future of the Maple Tree centre had been like “talking to a brick wall”.
She added: “We have no idea really what is going on. The staff are not allowed to speak about it which I think is disgraceful.
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“I think it would be tragic if it closes.
“I understand that we have to make cuts, but there should be other means of making those.
“We need more clarity, we need to know if there is anything we can do. Can we as a community fundraise or get charity status in some way I’m not an expert but this needs to be explored to see what is possible.”
Ms Job, said the centre had been a “godsend” during the summer holidays and helped her when she moved to the area, shortly after the birth of her son Alfie, who is now four.
She said the first aid course for new parents at the centre allowed her to sleep soundly at night without worrying about not being able to react if something happened to her son, and described the staff as “brilliant”.
She said: “It means so much to the parents, I found it hard to integrate and coming to the centre really did help me to meet people and know I’m not alone. It’s a safe environment where people can talk about being a parent and I got the chance to speak to people about their experiences.”
A group of parents have created a petition which has more than 50 signatures.
Another parent, Rebecca Mears, said the centre was “perfect” to allow her to settle into the community.
She added that many of the women felt the centre was “invaluable” to them.
She said: “It’ll affect them deeply if and when it goes as not only will the parents suffer but the children could potentially miss out on their foundations for early year development.”
County council spokesman Paul Smith said no decisions would be made until the new year.
He added that a consultation would be launched soon.
To sign the petition go to change.org and search for Maple Tree Children’s Centre.