Nurseries face funding cuts

Platt Bridge Sure Start - Betheney Coyne with her charges
Platt Bridge Sure Start - Betheney Coyne with her charges

WIGAN’S Sure Start centres are facing huge funding cuts, it has been warned.

The 20 nurseries across the borough face having budgets hacked as part of the Government’s £4.3m cuts to Wigan’s education spending over the next two years.

Council chiefs confirmed today that they were reviewing the service and are refusing to rule out closures or a reduction in hours for some centres.

Sure Start centres, a flagship educational project for the previous Government, have more than 5,500 families in Wigan registered.

Metro chiefs are refusing to rule out complete closure of some Sure Start centres or a reduction in their opening hours.

Council’s Executive Director of Children and Young People’s Services Nick Hudson said today: “The council has no immediate plans to close children’s centres but is in the process of reviewing all activity.

“Once this is complete we will be in a position to clarify our plans for the future.”

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “Before the election David Cameron accused Labour of scaremongering when we pointed out that his plans would damage Sure Start; now he’s forcing councils to close centres and sack staff.”

But a spokesman for Wigan Conservative Federation said: “It is up to the local authorities like the Metro to decide what they do with the money provided to them by the Coalition Government and they must decided the priorities.”

Sure Start began in 1999 to support parents in poorer communities.

They bring together child care, early education, health and family support services for families with children under five years old.

Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services Coun Susan Loudon said: “Because of the Coalition Government’s savage cuts, to this local authority, we have no alternative but to review all our services. “Sure Start is a very important aspect of our service to families and young people and we wish to continue to deliver the provision, however it will have to change over the next three years. As soon as we have all the information available both our customers and our clients will be informed.”