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Judicial review over Bucks County Council's children's centre plans

Campaigners fighting to save Buckinghamshire’s children’s centres were in court this week for a judicial review hearing over the county council’s plans.

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

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

A campaign group Save Bucks Children’s Centres had been fighting the plans with law firm Irwin Mitchell, and were granted the judicial review following a court hearing on June 13.

A 32-year-old High Wycombe mother, who has remained anonymous, launched the legal challenge and the judicial review took place on Tuesday and yesterday (Wednesday) at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Alka Dass, lead campaigner from Save Bucks Children’s Centres, said: “We are hoping for a posi-tive outcome.

“Over the last two years of campaigning, we have many families who have come forward and told us how the children’s centres have helped them as parents and how they are worried about their centres closing.

“The children’s centres are a vital support for many. They bring people together, they support families and help them in the long term.

“Closing them would be the wrong decision to take and we hope the judge takes on the claimant’s argument and keeps all of Bucks children’s centres open.

“We hope to hear the decision very quickly.”

With a verdict imminent after the Advertiser goes to press, the county council was unmoved on its previous statement in the Advertiser’s June 27 edition.

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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