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Council report error sees children's centre decision delayed

A final decision on the revamp of children’s centres in Suffolk has been pulled at the last minute, after an error was spotted in the council’s reports.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet was this afternoon due to agree a shake-up of children’s centres into a new ‘family hubs’ model which would see two centres close entirely, eight transformed into nursery or school places, 11 remain open only part time and 17 to continue full time.

Newmarket's Foley House, in Wellington Street, was one of the centres to be saved after the council reversed its plan to make it part time.

Suffolk County Council is based at Endeavour House (38461079)
Suffolk County Council is based at Endeavour House (38461079)

But Conservative council leader Matthew Hicks confirmed an error in the reports meant a decision could not be taken today, and has now been pushed back to its meeting on August 25.

He said: “Officers have identified an administrative error which potentially affects the site by site data contained within the report. The chief executive has therefore withdrawn the report so that further investigation can be undertaken.

“The report will therefore be presented to the cabinet on 25 August 2020.”

It has not been made clear what the error in the reports is, but meant the cabinet felt it could not make a decision until accurate information was presented.

The proposals aim to offer more outreach services in the community to help those in the hardest to reach areas, and extend support for those aged 0-19 instead of just the 0-5 offering in place currently.

But opposition groups have warned that it will cut a lifeline for families who are familiar with and use the centres.