Parents rally behind campaign to protect Portsmouth children’s centre

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  • Mums say Highbury Children’s Centre gave them new lease of life
  • Tory activist Jim Fleming sets up petition and wants to hold public meetings to listen to people’s views
  • Consultation over move runs until January 31
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CONCERNED parents are pleading for a children’s day centre to be protected.

Families are able to visit Highbury Children’s Centre if they are in need of support.

But Portsmouth City Council has proposed turning the valued facility into a ‘satellite hub’, meaning it would only be open for planned activities and no longer act as a drop-in service as well.

A campaign spearheaded by Conservative Cosham activist Jim Fleming has been launched to keep the centre as it is – and users who have relied on its support hope the council will listen.

Sam Nutbeam, 29, of Cosham, said: ‘At the moment, everyone can drop in whenever they want for whatever kind of support.

‘It attracts hundreds of parents from the area, not just Cosham, but from Drayton, Farlington and Wymering too.

It’s helped me, and lots of other parents get to where they need to be, in order to become better parents and better people.

Sam Nutbeam

‘I don’t know where I would be without the centre.

‘It’s helped me and lots of other parents get to where they need to be, in order to become better parents and better people.

‘So if that was taken away, it would be absolutely devastating.’

The move is part of plans to close three of the city’s nine children centres.

The proposals, which are being consulted upon, would help save the council up to £221,000.

Mum-of-three Kirsty Andrews, 33, said: ‘You need a centre where you can go in if you have a worry or need to get out of the house because you’ve had enough.’

Mr Fleming plans to hold public meetings and has launched a petition.

He said: ‘Parents have shown through their own experiences that just having organised groups is not what draws them into the centre.

‘It’s the ability to drop in whenever they feel like it.

‘The users of the Highbury building come across the north of the city. They choose to travel here because of the atmosphere.’

Councillor Neill Young, Tory children and education boss, said: ‘There is a consultation and what I would say to anyone who has a view is to contribute to that consultation.

‘What I can’t do as a councillor is preempt any decision that will be made.’

The consultation runs until January 31. Visit portsmouth.gov.uk and search ‘children’s centre consultation’.