Anger at centre closure decision

PARENTS and volunteers have slammed Westminster Council s decision to close the Queen s Park Sure Start centre on Dart Street

Susanna Wilkey

PARENTS and volunteers have slammed Westminster Council's decision to close the Queen's Park Sure Start centre on Dart Street.

The council is moving the services from Dart Street to a new building on Bravington Road but campaigners say both centres are needed.

Volunteer Zohra Wahdani, the breastfeeding councillor, said: "I am really upset because I feel the centre is really needed and I can see the positive change in some mothers because of Sure Start. A lot of them go to English classes and learn how to use the internet there and it really helps them.

"It is very good for mothers' social lives as well because they make friends at Sure Start. I am very angry the council is closing the centre down. It is so needed for so many mothers and they use it so much.

"It is like a very important door is closing to these mothers. I have spoken to mothers and they are all upset about it closing."

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And MP for Regent's Park and Kensington North Karen Buck said: "What I object to is that the council makes these decisions without having any proper plans or consultation. Dart Street is a showcase for Sure Start services in the area. It provides high profile visibility for Sure Start within the Mozart Estate and it is used as a drop in centre by hundreds of parents every month.

"The beauty of Dart Street is its location - it is very obvious. Parents can walk past and see it and then go in. Bravington Road is also a beautiful centre but it fulfils a different purpose and it is not big enough to house everything.

"It was never an agreement that Bravington Road would be instead of operating a service in the middle of Queen's Park in Dart Street. It is ripping the heart out of Sure Start in Queen's Park by closing this centre down."

Parent Nassiba Ouhidousse, who uses the centre with her two children aged five and two, said: "I totally disagree with closing down the centre - it helps so many mothers and fathers and single parents.

"Sure Start is very well used in Queen's Park and the centre on Dart Street has lessons and computers mothers can use - it should not be closed."

But the council claims no services will be lost in the move and says the board is working with parents to make sure they are well informed of the changes.

Director of children's commissioning Mike Potter said: "The North Cluster Children's Centre Partnership Board, which is made up of local partners including parents, schools and the voluntary sector, made a joint decision to relocate services from Dart Street to nearby Bravington Road.

"The board decided the services would be more appropriately delivered from the newly refurbished building. No services will be lost and none will be moved until they are available in the new centre.

"This move will allow parents to access the same services in better facilities than those available at the current site."

The closure will take place by the end of June when everything has been moved to the new £1.3million Bravington Road building.