As you will read in tomorrow's (today's?) Northern Echo, the next stage in the DBC plans to convert the old children's home on Salters Lane South (opposite the Education Village) into a Children's Centre has been reached.
This is great news for our community, and especially for parents - Children's Centres are intended to be used by everyone who has a child under the age of 5. They provide a one-stop shop for local families, bringing health and Children's Services under one roof.
Services are to include family support including outreach; support for childminders; family health services, employment support to help parents get back to work; and information services as well as play and early learning opportunities. There will also be a play area for 20 children.
Before the conversion can take place, the planning processes need to be followed, and the Council has now submitted an application - the main building will remain, but there will be a single story extension to the front, and a canopy erected to the rear. David, Andy and I are in the process of putting out a special letter in the area to let residents know, and how they can comment on the plans. If you would like to comment, or to see the plans, then you should contact Adrian Hobbs at the Town Hall on 388083. The reference for the application is 10/00087/DC.
We have been monitoring progress of the scheme, and officers have told us that the planning application is likely to be heard in April. If approved, work will start on site in May, and the centre ready to open in November 2010.
One of the key elements for us has been the securing of funding for the scheme - it will cost £526,000. We are delighted to say this has been confirmed - delighted because if the Tories are elected, they've pledged to slash the budget for Children's Centres, and want to restrict them only to the most disadvantaged communities. Labour disagrees - we believe every community should benefit from these excellent facilities for families. Just one more important dividing line between the 2 serious contenders for Government in the run-up to the General Election.