Controversial plans to shut down 35 children’s centres in Bucks are “driven by funding cuts”, claims a Wycombe councillor in a letter blasting the county council – as campaigners prepare to protest against the closures once again.

Majid Hussain, who represents Booker, Cressex and Castlefield, has written a scathing open letter criticising the proposals to replace all the county’s children’s centres with nine ‘hubs’ that would be based in the areas of highest need and would provide parenting courses and sessions for people who need support. Other sessions could be held in community settings like schools, village halls and coffee shops or in the family home.

The move could save the county council more than £3 million – but regular users of the service, Wycombe Labour and Cllr Hussain have urged them to rethink the plans.

In the letter, Cllr Hussain criticised the proposed closures, saying they are driven by cuts, “not by a desire to improve the running of the children’s centres”.

He said: “It would appear the council has failed to provide evidence of an appropriate assessment of the impact of these closures on the most vulnerable in society, failed to offer a viable alternative to the current status quo and failed to fully understand how much local people from across Bucks rely on these centres, even after they have been ravaged by reductions in funding.

“Above all, I urge the council to think through the proposed plans again – and to start by offering clarity on both the assessment they have undertaken, and on their full plans for the future – including how the proposed ‘nine hubs’ will work, in practice.

“Seeing the council launch its appeal to give Christmas presents for vulnerable children this week seems – in the context of cuts that will impact the most vulnerable children in our county – a case of giving a little with one hand, and taking a lot away with the other.”

Cllr Hussain’s comments come as campaigners from Save Buckinghamshire’s Children’s Centres confirmed they will protest the plans in High Wycombe and Burnham on January 6 – two days before the county council is due to decide on the proposals.

A mother-of-three, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the Bucks Free Press that the family support workers at Millbrook Children’s Centre in High Wycombe saved her life when they noticed she was suffering with depression.

She said: “I have three children ages five, two, and one. I have managed to cope well with my illness over the years until a month ago when I went rapidly downhill. A family support worker at Millbrook noticed that I didn't seem right, she invited me in to the children's centre with my youngest for a coffee and a chat.

“The support workers at Millbrook saved me that day, I was planning to commit suicide because I was struggling so much and just couldn't cope any more. The early help service is priceless to the community.”

Cllr Warren Whyte, cabinet member for children’s services, has stressed that “children and families deserve the best early help we can give them”, adding: “We need to be confident our services are fit for the future and focus our support to the vulnerable to help those who need it the most.

“Whilst the idea of change is unsettling its crucial children and families have the best early help support and I’m confident we can improve how we do this together."