PARENTS appealed for a rethink of proposals to close children’s centres during a packed meeting at Oxford’s County Hall.

Mums and dads yesterday lined up to tell councillors their personal stories and why the centres – which support families of children under five – were so important to them.

It followed a protest outside by about 100 people.

But senior figures said the closures were the only way to save £6m, as part of wider savings of £88m that still 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 are replaced with eight ‘family and resource centres’.

Mother-of-one Claire El Mouden, a prizewinning Oxford University researcher, tearfully told councillors how a children’s centre and the other mums she had met there became a vital support network after she gave birth.

She said: “I felt like a total failure and did not know what to do , but I left feeling so much lighter.”

Yan Wong, a governor of Grandpont Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Oxford, said the council “should be lobbying the Government”.

Jill Huish, a leader of the Save Oxfordshire’s Children’s Centres campaign, called on Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron to intervene.

The campaign launched an online petition, which last night was approaching almost 2,000 signatures.

Melinda Tilley, county council cabinet member for children, education and families, said: “It was hard listening to some of those stories but those people are very brave.

“People have come here today and said they can help and I would urge people to respond to our consultation.”