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Bucks Children's Centres campaigners win first court battle

Campaigners on a mission to save Buckinghamshire’s children’s centres took another step forward.

Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) agreed at cabinet in March to close 19 out of the 35 centres it operates across the county, turning the remaining sites into family support centres.

Called the ‘Family Support Service’, the new programme is due to be implemented on September 2.

The council says this new service will offer wider services for more children and young people.

However the authority’s plans took a hit on June 13 when campaigners won the first court battle.

A 32-year-old mother, who has remained anonymous to protect her family, launched the legal challenge with law firm Irwin Mitchell – and was granted a judicial review hearing following the Royal Courts of Justice case in London.

The review is due to be heard on July 2 and 3.

Lawyers claim the closures are in breach of the 2010 Equality Act and 2006 Childcare Act.

As reported in the Advertiser on June 6, the children’s centres in Marlow and Burnham will remain open but the one serving Wooburn Green and Bourne End will not, under council plans.

Alka Dass, of campaign group Save Bucks Children’s Centres, said: “After fighting this battle for the last two years, I feel like parents can now see the finishing line.

“I am ecstatic and cannot believe how far the campaign has come. The fact that this order has been granted for a judicial review gives all parents hope that the children centres could be saved.

“The reason why parents and residents support this cause is because children’s centres are a vital service for parents and families.

“They help make children school ready, help parents to become better parents, provide guidance as well as early intervention and prevention.”

Warren Whyte, cabinet member for children’s services at BCC said: “The county council cannot comment further on the legal proceedings.

“We can confirm that work will continue on implementing our plans to deliver a new Family Support Service in the meantime. Children’s centre services will continue, from all current sites, until the end of August.”

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