Lancing Parish Council urged to oppose closure of children and family centre
A Lancing parish councillor has opposed plans to close the village’s children and family centre and youth centre.
Lee Cowen, who represents Churchill Ward, will present a motion at a parish council meeting tonight (March 24) urging councillors to reject the move.
West Sussex County Council has proposed closing 32 of 43 children and family centres across the county and all 12 of its Find It Out youth centres.
A countywide petition against the plans, started by Labour councillors including Mr Cowen, has received over 1,500 signatures.
In his motion to the parish council, Mr Cowen said the core purpose of the centres is to improve outcomes and reduce inequalities between families in greatest need.
Lancing’s children and family centre serves the two areas of highest deprivation in Adur, he said, incorporating Churchill Ward along Tower Road and Hurstfield, and the Mash Barn estate.
“It’s at Lancing’s centre where parents and children maximise their capabilities,” said Mr Cowen.
“WSCC are proposing to close this building and replace it with a home visit service, but this will just not have the same positive outcomes nor will it be available as a universal service.
“Parents and children visit these centres for socialising with other parents and children. They go there to get check-ups, receive advice on parenting, breastfeeding, health and wellbeing. Language speech therapy, advice on employment
and benefits are just some of the other services run out of the centre.”
He said there would be knock-on effects on services such as the Lancing and Sompting Foodbank, which runs out of the centre, as well as the Step Ahead Nursery.
The youth centre in Penhill Road also houses Electric Storm Youth.
Under the county council’s proposals, the centre in Shoreham would be kept to serve the whole of Adur as the footfall to Lancing’s was not considered high enough.
Mr Cowen said figures show footfall was increasing around the centre and will only increase further when the 600 homes on New Monks Farm are completed.
“This is another preventative service being cut back and will only lead to further social problems in this community,” he said.
“We propose that Lancing Parish Council writes a letter to the leader of WSCC, Paul Marshall and the CEO Becky Shaw proposing that we retain the provision of at least one family centre across Lancing and Sompting. We also wish to be directly notified of the proposed closure should it go ahead and be nominated for a community right to bid.”