Save our centre, say mums amid plans for mergers

: The parents and children who use the children's centre at St Cuthbert's Church on a regular basis.''Picture: Sarah Standing (13321-5677)
: The parents and children who use the children's centre at St Cuthbert's Church on a regular basis.''Picture: Sarah Standing (13321-5677)
Forest School Leaders Dawn White and Sue Evans with their pupils outside the school

Picture: Habibur Rahman (180146-338)

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PARENTS are battling plans to merge a number of children’s centres in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth City Council has launched a review of the 16 children’s centres it runs in the city in a bid to make a £1m budget saving.

Under the plans, several centres would be merged, leaving only nine centres behind.

Parents who use the services say they are a lifeline for young mums.

Zoe Lamburth, 39, from Baffins, visits the St Cuthbert’s centre in Hayling Avenue with her one-year-old daughter Nancy Hager.

Under the proposals being considered by the council, that centre would be merged with the Cumberland Children’s Centre at Devonshire Avenue Baptist Church and the Milton Park Children’s Centre at Milton Park School.

Zoe said: ‘This group is needed by mums. I am trying to put together a petition and put something on Facebook.

‘We have to try and fight for it because if things don’t go to plan at least I can say I fought for it.

‘I don’t want to lose it for me, the young mums and future mums.’

Other parts of the proposal include the merger of the Portsdown centre, which provides services at Highbury Community Centre, Medina School and Portsdown Primary School, and the Drayton and Farlington centre which is based at The Link in Cosham.

The Northern Parade Children’s Centre in Hilsea would merge with Stamshaw Children’s Centre at Stamshaw Junior School.

The North End Children’s Centre at Meredith Lodge would merge with the Willows Centre for Children at Willows School in Battenburg Avenue.

The Southsea Children’s Centre at the Havelock Community Centre would merge with the Brambles Children’s Centre at The Brambles Nursery and Goldsmith’s Infant School.

And the Portsea Children’s Centre would merge with the Somers Town Children’s Centre.

Children’s centres in Buckland, Paulsgrove and Fratton are not affected.

Sue Walker, the chairman of the St Cuthbert’s community centre trust, said: ‘It would have an effect on the trust because we do book quite a number of rooms.

‘I do hope it will stay because it is important for us to have bookings and for the community.’

The council is holding a public consultation over the plans, which runs until March 13.

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