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Cuts to Newmarket's children's centre branded 'immoral'

Opposition is growing to Suffolk County Council’s plans to cut the opening hours of a Newmarket children’s centre which one mother has described as ‘central to her survival’ when her children were small.

Foley House is one of 38 centres across Suffolk providing free support support and services for families with children aged up to five years which the council is looking at closing or cutting back.

The council is set to launch a public consultation on its cost-cutting proposals to change the centres into 16 full-time and nine part-time hubs dealing with young people up to 19 years of age. Two centres would close completely and the remaining 11 would become either special educational needs (SEND) facilities or nurseries.

Foley House, Newmarket (Photo: Google)(15777206)
Foley House, Newmarket (Photo: Google)(15777206)

Mother-of-two Claire Unwin, from Tuddenham, said the plan was immoral. She said she found her children’s early years extremely difficult. “Central to my survival during that time were my local childen’s centres,” said Ms Unwin. “I have heard people say that their children’s centre saved their life and I don’t doubt it.”

She said the council was ‘robbing a parent in desperate need of the support a children’s centre offers, to pay a parent in desperate need of a nursery place or SEND support for their child’.

At a meeting of Newmarket Town Council on Monday, Cllr Kevin Yarrow said: “This tranch of cuts are attacking the most vulnerable people in our town. Those least able to defend themselves are attacked again in order to save money.”

Cllr Ollie Bowen said he was also concerned by the plan and had set up an online petition.

Members agreed to request county councillor Robin Millar attend the council’s meeting next month to hear councillors’ concerns

Conservative cabinet member for education and children’s services Cllr Gordon Jones said the proposed changes were about ‘living within our means while trying to deliver the best possible service’.