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Parents given 'flicker of hope' over children's centre
CONCERNED parents say they have been given "a flicker of hope" at news services at a High Wycombe children's centre could stay the same.
Parents with children at the Wycombe East children's centre in Micklefield are worried by possible changes caused by plans for charity Barnardo's to take over.
They were so concerned at a possible loss in services they set up an online petition campaigning against the proposals, which were put forward by Buckinghamshire County Council last year.
But when they met with county education bosses on Wednesday they learned keeping things the same is a viable option for the centre, and another nearby at nearby Hampden Way.
Maddy Sykes, Chairperson of the Wycombe East Parents' Forum, welcomed the news.
She said: "To hear on Wednesday staying as we were, with a few changes, was a huge lift. It gave us all a flicker of hope. There have been emails back and forth to see how we can possibly sustain ourselves with the current support workers.
"Now we want to work with Bucks County Council to possibly have that as an alternative [to Barnardo's]. There are a couple of services we've tried to get involved in running ourselves as much as we possibly can."
Parents' main concerns are over staffing levels, continuity of services and relationships with outside providers - which they feel would be adversely affected if Barnardo's started running the centres.
The current service provision for the Sure Start centres comes to an end in 2014 and parents are questioning why a change of provider needs to be made now when it could potentially change again next year.
Mrs Sykes said Wednesday's meeting with county council representatives - which included the cabinet member for Education and Skills, Cllr Mike Appleyard - was positive.
She said: "They were more prepared to listen to the questions we were posing to them."
During the meeting Cllr Appleyard reiterated the centre would remain open whatever happened, telling parents: "Absolutely we are not closing centres."
Mrs Sykes added parents were grateful for the support from the people who have so far signed the online petition against the changes, with nearly 150 people so far logging on ahead of the February 17 deadline.
She said: "It's been quite overwhelming. We didn't think it would be in the hundreds."
To sign the petition go to http://democracy.buckscc.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=759.
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