A petition to save Ilkley’s Children’s Centre was presented to a meeting of the full Bradford Council on Tuesday.
The 478-name petition calling for the Little Lane Children’s Centre to be saved was handed over by Ilkley dads Simon Kelly and Adam Lucas, who were accompanied by one-year-old Isaac Lucas.
They were given five minutes to introduce the petition and outline the key reasons why Ilkley needs a dedicated and fully funded centre.
Bradford Council proposes to save £2.4million on the running of children’s centres in the district and many in wealthier areas are earmarked for a downgrade, including the Little Lane Centre and Menston and Burley Children’s Centre, which only opened three years ago. Seven separate petitions were presented against the proposed cuts.
The objectors argue that it is wrong to assume that better-off parents didn’t need support.
The Ilkley petition was started by Ilkley mum Adele Senior and her one-year-old son’s father, Mr Kelly, spoke at the meeting. He told councillors the centre was a vital hub for babies, children, parents, grandparents and carers.
He said: “By targeting deprivation rather than targeting need, the proposal to make Little Lane an ‘outreach base’ will not only significantly reduce the range and quality of services, but will also no longer serve the needs of vulnerable and struggling families.
“We ask the Council to consider the importance of providing support to all families across the district equally and regardless of income and financial circumstance and geographical location.
“We also ask that they consider the impact of losing existing dedicated Children Centre staff who together share years of local knowledge of healthcare provision and family services, as well as expertise in child care, educational practices, and parental guidance that is specific to the needs of the families they serve.”
After the meeting Mr Kelly added: “I was very pleased to see that six other petitions were presented to save other centres across the district.
“Like Ilkley, these are centres not deemed by the Council to be in 'disadvantaged' areas and so face down grading to 'Outreach Centres'.
“All the speeches made strong arguments and together I really feel that we made a significant impact.
“In fact, because of the large number of Children's Centre petitions the Full Council meeting had to be extended to accommodate them and a special debate on the issue of funding children's centres was tabled.
“This is a great result and hopefully a positive first step towards overturning the Council's frankly unworkable model for restructuring early years provision across Bradford District.”
He thanked everyone who has contributed to and supported the campaign and signed the petition.