Local Liberal Democrats have condemned cuts to Children’s Centres in Lewes District that will leave only one Children’s Centre in the whole of the constituency of Lewes. Under plans to be carried out by April 2020, local Tories are targeting cuts at coastal towns and rural villages. Children’s Centres have been earmarked for closure in Seaford, Newhaven, Ringmer and Chailey.
"These cuts will leave coastal and rural families struggling when their local Children’s Centre closes. There’s no guarantee that “partners” will take the centres over and provide the services, nor is it obvious how families will continue 'to receive keywork services at home from nearby keywork hubs’ as ESCC claims,” said Cllr Philip Daniel, Lib Dem County Councillor for Ringmer and Lewes Bridge.
“Many families will now have no choice but to pay the high costs of travel to Lewes in order to access children’s services at all," said Lib Dem County Councillor for Ouse Valley West and Downs, Cllr Sarah Osborne, "We know how much pressure families are under in our communities and the additional time and high transport costs are yet another thing for them to cope with if these cuts go through”.
“The situation in Newhaven is particularly worrying”, commented Cllr James MacCleary, Lib Dem District Councillor for Newhaven South and deputy leader of Lewes District Council, “The Newhaven Children’s Centre at Denton Island is being ‘de-designated’ from a dedicated Children’s Centre to be rented out instead to interested parties. This is a cut in any other terms and the Tories should come clean about it and the fact that yet again they are targeting our coastal towns and villages.”
Lib Dem County Councillor for Seaford South, Carolyn Lambert, highlighted the impact of the cuts, “We’ve seen this over the years in Lewes. East Sussex County Council use Lewes District as a target for some of their most draconian cuts. With 4 out 14 Children’s Centres affected in Lewes District, Lewes will suffer 30% of the ESCC cuts. Following closures of day centres in Seaford and Ringmer and the threats to Ringmer swimming pool, Lewes District is yet again singled out by the Tories”.
“Lewes needs a stronger voice at a national level to bring pressure to stop Lewes Constituency taking the brunt of unfair and divisive cuts” said Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate, Oli Henman, “Although the Tories are promising more money for public services, the real picture is Tory cuts across the board, targeting our most vulnerable communities.”
The latest Conservative plans for cuts in Children’s Centres across East Sussex were presented by children’s services lead, Cllr Sylvia Tidy, on Monday 7th October. It is proposed that 14 Children’s Centres will be de-designated across East Sussex with 4 in Lewes District. 14 centres were listed in the original consultation document in May 2019.