Row over Lancaster children’s centre closure

Firbank Children's Centre was discussed last night
Firbank Children's Centre was discussed last night

Emotions ran high during a debate over a Lancaster children’s centre closure.

Anger mounted last night as city councillors discussed the future of Firbank Children’s Centre.

Green councillor, Tim Hamilton-Cox asked councillors to agree to write to Lancashire County Council, calling on it to reverse its decision to close the centre on Firbank Road.

Arguments broke out during the meeting at Morecambe Town Hall over who was to blame for the closure.

Labour councillor Colin Hartley said: “I am sure none of us here want to see any children’s centre close.

“I feel really sorry for people in the county council who are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“Children’s centres shouldn’t be closed absolutely but I can’t support this because it is aimed at the wrong people, the people it should be aimed at is the government.”

Coun Claire Cozler, of the Labour Party, said: “The county council are being forced by central government to make these cuts, we shouldn’t be criticising the county council.

“I think we could work with the county council to ensure government does not do this again, there can’t be anymore cuts to children’s centres or child care because we risk things like child mortality if we do.”

However Conservative councillor Charlie Edwards called for a more “proactive” approach to the situation at hand.

He said: “I would like us to put aside these political differences and have a much proactive approach, something needs to be done.”

Coun Andrew Gardiner, of the Conservative party said: “It is about being proactive and not reactive, we are being reactive, using children as pawns.

“When it gets bad we talk party politics, the quicker we get into action the better so kids aren’t being used as political pawns.”

Lancashire County Council decided to close Firbank, in Firbank Road, as part of its wide reaching buildings and property review.

A spokesman for county council has said a service would still be provided at Lune Park Children’s Centre at Ryelands and Appletree Children’s Centre at White Cross.

However Green councillor, Abi Mills has said this is not acceptable.

She said: “Firbank is different because you can’t get one bus, you have to get two buses to get to the Ridge to Lune park, there is no way you are going to walk back up that hill with a push chair.

“Teachers at the school are really scared about child protection issues.

“Everyone on the estate is terrified.”

The decision to write to the county council was overruled.

More on the debate in next week’s Lancaster Guardian.