The future of Bexley Children’s Centres is one of the proposals on which the Council is consulting this summer.
Currently the centres operate through three hub sites, together with a number of link sites.
The proposal put forward by the Council would see the services operate from Danson Children’s Centre - one of the existing centres - and a smaller site at Normandy School for families and children with special educational needs. The Danson Centre is run by the Danson Youth Trust and Normandy by Bexley SNAP and Bexley Voice.
The nurseries that currently operate alongside the children centre sites will not be affected. Groups that previously ran activities at the centres will be supported to find other accommodation where possible.
Bexley’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Philip Read said: “Bexley, like all Councils, is experiencing a squeeze in its funding as a consequence of both the 2008 financial crisis and the present Covid-19 pandemic which has negatively impacted the finances of all Councils through the “double whammy” of increased costs and lower income. Because of that an across the board review of the Council’s activities and methods of working has been necessitated to ensure we meet the financial challenges ahead as well as continuing to deliver value for money services. As always reviews such as this create opportunities to improve methods of working. The fixed location Children’s Centres are one such opportunity for a rethink.
The original intention of fixed children’s centres was well meant, but they have suffered by their focus on static premises to which people have to travel. We believe we should aim to take the services needed closer to the communities for whom they will be most help. The proposed provision of support in communities through a hub and spoke model is designed to achieve this and allow greater access to them.
We will aim to support in future a model where children’s service providers can deliver in available community assets, such as libraries, and we intend to work with both the voluntary and commercial sectors to ensure as wide a range as possible of universal services across the Borough whilst the Council focuses taxpayers money on those disadvantaged children and families in Bexley who need targeted help and support.
There is also now, and will continue to be, a broad range of early years provision in place across the Borough and we will be seeking to ensure information on the range and scope of that provision is readily available to residents and we will also work with all those who presently run activities from the centres to find alternative accommodation for them to rent in order to allow their services to continue.”
The Council is encouraging all service users and providers to respond to the consultation. We will work with current service providers throughout the consultation and engage them in the potential future operating model for Children’s Centres in Bexley.