CHILDREN’S centres, youth clubs and libraries across the city are facing the axe under controversial new council proposals to save £4 million a year.
Ten libraries could close if community groups do not step in to run them; six council-run children’s centres would close; council-run nursery provision would end unless private nursery providers take them off the council’s hands; and 14 council-run youth clubs would be lost in the latest cuts.
It is expected that around 100 full-time members of staff could lose their jobs – 30 from libraries, 22 in children’s centres, 33 in nurseries and 12 in youth services.
Libraries across the city have been divided into three categories – ‘Core libraries’, ‘Partnership libraries’ and ‘Community-led libraries or closures’.
The five libraries categorised as ‘Community-led libraries or closures’ – in Caludon, Cheylesmore, Coundon, Finham and Earlsdon – are under the greatest threat of closure if no community organisations come forward to run them.
However the future of those described as ‘Partnership libraries’ is also uncertain.
Seeking to consolidate a number of services under one roof, Aldermoor, Canley, Hillfields, Jubillee Crescent and Allesley Park libraries would be retained or relocated into buildings alongside community organisations and other services such as adult education and food banks.
While the council describes this as a positive change – presenting community groups and residents with the ‘opportunity’ to run local libraries alongside dedicated library staff – the question remains whether these ‘Partnership libraries’ would be forced to close their doors if no community organisations or volunteers step in.
The ‘Core libraries’ – Central, Bell Green, Foleshill, Stoke and Tile Hill – are all safe from closure.
The proposals also do not guarantee the futures of council-led children’s centres and nurseries in the city.
Coventry council hopes to amalgamate some children and youth services, and nurseries into so-called ‘family hubs’ – community-led buildings focused on providing services to the city’s hardest to reach and most vulnerable children and young people.
Under the proposals current children’s centres at Bell Green, Foleshill, Tile Hill, Radford, Moat House, Middle Ride, Gosford Park and Hillfields would transform into new family hubs.
However, a question mark lingers over the future of nursery provision at the new family hubs at Bell Green, Foleshill, Tile Hill, Radford, Moat House and Middle Ride.
If no school or Private Voluntary Independent (PVI) Nursery providers step in to run nurseries at these hubs, any existing nursery provision would be scrapped by the council – meaning they simply become centres providing advice and support services to youngsters.
A council spokesperson, however, remained confident that a PVI or school would step in.
Universal youth work would also be scrapped in the cost-cutting plans.
This means all council-run youth clubs and provisions for young people across Coventry which anyone can attend and which are not specialist would stop – including youth clubs run from the African Caribbean Centre for Young People, Hillfields Young People Centre, Wood End Youth Centre and the Xcel Leisure Centre.
Councillors Kevin Maton, cabinet member for education and skills, and Ed Ruane, cabinet member for children’s services, said the changes should not be seen negatively.
“It’s about getting the services to those who need it most,” Coun Ruane explained.
“The new family hub model will focus our limited resources in the area of most need and should provide a more effective, integrated service.”
Coun Matonsaid the changes were in response to ‘savage’ Government spending cuts, which have seen Coventry Council stripped of £95 million a year in Westminster funding.
With those cuts expected to rise to £119 million a year by 2020, he said the Council needed to work towards a solution which was based in communities rather than having residents ‘looking to the council’.
The proposals will go to public consultation in November.