Cricklewood children’s centre faces closure

Mums fighback at Barnet Council’s plans to close lifeline

YOUNG mothers are targeting a council over plans to close a much loved and needed children’s centre.

Barnet Council is consulting on closing children’s centres across the borough and reducing services in others.

But mums at St Agnes Children’s Centre, in Gillingham Road, Cricklewood, are putting up a fight saying they have come to rely on it.

Maggie Groom, of Marnham Avenue, who takes her children Lanesra, two, and Darian, one, to the centre, said: “We have put so much into this place it would be very sad if it were to close down. If it does we’ll be stuck at home. Some of us would never speak to adults otherwise. I can’t afford to go to a nursery.

“And my children were really quiet before coming here and have come out of their shell. Now they are ready to go to nursery.”

The young mums have organised a petition, written to councillors and got shops and schools onboard their campaign to keep the centre open.

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The sense of worry over its closure is palpable.

Ms Groom said: “This place gives people vital skills without even realising it. We learn about parenting and baby skills and have a community caf� where we learn about food hygiene and using a till.

“One woman has no family in this country, her husband is at work all day and she didn’t know how to look after her new born baby. Without this place she wouldn’t have got any help.”

The children’s centre, which has a fathers’ group, speech therapist, toddlers’ group and nursery group, was due to move to modern new premises in April if funding remained.

However, Barnet Council blamed the coalition government for cutting its money.

A Barnet Council spokesman said: “We are currently carrying out a formal legal consultation on children’s centres in Barnet which ends on February 7.

“The council is reviewing the structure of its children’s centres, in light of the reduced levels of funding for 2011/12 of �2.685m.

“The council is consulting on proposals for a more targeted approach for the services currently provided through its children’s centres.”