Almost 500 people have signed an online petition to prevent both of Burntwood’s children centres from being closed.

The Sure Start facilities at Springhill and Boney Hay could be ditched if Staffordshire County Council approves a proposal.

A petition has been launched by a group of local mums in a bid to fight the plans.

“Lichfield and Cannock are both keeping a children’s centre, yet both of Burntwood’s are being scrapped,” said petition organiser Esther Allen. “Burntwood has a large population and should have the same local facilities that are available to its neighbours.

“Users of our local centres provided the most responses out of any Staffordshire district to the consultation at the end of last year and the survey results were that the majority of people want centres to stay open despite the proposals to close them.

“Burntwood’s children’s centres are absolutely vital to new parents and offer a wealth of support, guidance, services, groups and classes to many local families. Everything from baby clinics, to antenatal and postnatal classes, family support and adult-education classes.

“Children’s centres are a place where new parents take their children to check on their health, learn about how best to support their development and get support from other parents. The centres are a lifeline for many new parents and are fantastic purpose-built facilities, with outdoor play areas, baby change, meeting rooms, toys, specialist resources and furniture.”

The proposals could see the services relocated elsewhere in the town.

But Esther believes such a switch could be easier said than done.

“Burntwood has already had it’s planned Health Centre scrapped and Youth Centre closed down,” she said. “There just aren’t the alternative suitable places in Burntwood with the specialist facilities to hold the clinics, groups and classes to support young families. Why not continue to use our purpose-built facilities instead?

“The council suggest that the buildings are unimportant and that they will support people in the community. However there will be no ‘community’ space to go to if these centres are closed.

“Rather than closing these centres down, we urge the County Council to keep at least one open. Look at ways to get more families into the centre by cutting the red tape, making it more of a community hub and using social media to advertise what is available to reach more families.

“Chidren’s opportunities and start in life are incredibly important and it is widely known that the first two years of a child’s life are more important than any other in shaping their development.

“Yet the council plan to save money by closing the facilities that provide the services to those that need it most.”

The backlash from local residents has already led to Staffordshire County Council’s lead member for children’s services, Cllr Mike Lawrence, promising to revisit the proposals.

And Burntwood Labour county councillor Sue Woodward says support for the bid to keep at least one centre open in the town has come from other parts of the chamber too.

“I am grateful that a number of members at the County Council have given their support for Burntwood to be looked at again,” said Cllr Woodward. “Having lost our proposed new health centre along with a number of other facilities, we simply can’t afford to lose both the Springhill and Boney Hay centres until new premises are set up to deliver the important services they provide.

“I have a real concern too that young families from Burntwood will lose out as the nearest dedicated Children’s Centres will be in Cannock and Lichfield and public transport links are poor.”

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.