Parents, carers and councillors came together yesterday to protest against the potential closure of 35 “invaluable” children’s centres across the county.

Dozens of protestors – including district and county councillors from High Wycombe and Aylesbury Labour - gathered outside County Hall in Aylesbury armed with banners and placards to make their voices heard ahead of a decision that could see the county council axe the children’s centres in favour of nine “hubs”.

The move could save the county council more than £3 million – but regular users of the service have urged them to rethink.  

High Wycombe resident Elvan Clarke, who joined the protest on Monday, has used up to five different children’s centres with her two sons and said it would be a “great shame” to lose any of them.

She said: “They each have their own way of helping children and parents and they all offer something different. It can be really small things like enjoying a cup of coffee while your child plays.

“They are a lifeline for parents of children who may have special needs. They offer speech and language therapy, adult learning. There are talks on stress and anxiety. It touches on mental health and gives children a chance to integrate with other kids. It might not be something they get to have at home.

“The council is between a rock and a hard place – we’re in high austerity, money has to come from somewhere but please don’t take it from our kids.”

District councillor Mohammed Hanif, who attended the protest alongside Cllr Khalil Ahmed, Cllr Robin Stuchbury and Cllr Majid Hussain, urged the county council to “show some sanity and re-evaluate”.

Another High Wycombe resident, Sarah Heyes, has been using a children’s centre since her seven-month-old son was nine weeks old, said: “The most important thing about them is that they are affordable, walkable, they link you into the community and they are an excellent gateway into any other services you may need.

“Quite often, things don’t ever really need to escalate after that because the professionals are there and you have someone to talk to. You have opportunities for your child to develop – it is just invaluable.”

Alka Dass, one of the campaigners who set up the protest, said she was pleased with the number of people who had turned out to support them – and said more demonstrations will be held.

She said: “I think the council has realised they haven’t communicated properly. With 35 centres, if you can’t get to the people you need to with those 35, how will it be done with just nine hubs?”