MULTIPLE youth and children’s centres will be earmarked for closure as the Royal Borough cabinet opts for a ‘family hub’ model instead.

At a cabinet meeting on November 26 (Thursday), members voted to close 10 centres in favour of several sub-venues and two family hubs instead – which aim to bring vital services all in one place with a focus on early help provision and targeted support for vulnerable families, children, and young people.

One hub will be at the Marlow Road youth centre in Maidenhead and the other will be at the Windsor youth centre.

It was heard this change to a family hub service model will enable the council to make their resources available for early help services to reduce statutory intervention and “strengthen” the support given and outcomes rather than investing into buildings that are “not well used”.

The lead member for adult social care and children’s services, councillor Stuart Carroll (Conservative: Boyn Hill) said the move of bringing multiple services into one was based on evidence published by the Children’s Commissioner report.

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The family hubs will save the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) £600,000 a year.

Nearly 690 people responded to a 20-week second consultation, conducted by Achieving for Children who deliver children’s services on behalf of the council.

A total of 64.6 per cent said they agreed or strongly agreed with the model and 18.8 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

The leader of RBWM, councillor Andrew Johnson (Conservative: Hurley and Walthams), said: “It follows my mantra that it’s all about services, not necessarily buildings.

“One potential benefit of all of this has been the potential reuses of some of our property assets – but I think overall this is all about delivering better services and the better outcomes.”

Some of the buildings could be turned into social and affordable homes, according to the lead member for housing, councillor Ross McWilliams (Conservative: Cox Green).

Opposition councillors said they have accepted the family hubs will now happen despite some concerns after they called it in a few months back when cabinet members were scolded of not being clear on the proposals and its next steps.

Councillor Amy Tisi (Liberal Democrat: Clewer East) said: “It is fair to say that we’ve moved on from the call in and we’ve come to accept that hub model is happening despite some reservations.

“As someone who does work with vulnerable families, I really and truly hope this transformation succeeds to support our most vulnerable families.”

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The leader of the opposing Liberal Democrats, councillor Simon Werner (Pinkneys Green) – said there was some “definite positives” from this change of direction – but was “very concerned” on the end of universal services.

He added it was “devastating” for the residents who use the Larchfield hall as part of this redesign, advocating a large hall should still be provided to fill the loss.

These are the children and youth centres earmarked for closure:

  • Eton Wick Children’s Centre
  • The Lawns Children’s Centre
  • Woodlands Park Village Centre Children’s Centre
  • Old Windsor
  • Wraysbury Village Hall
  • Charters Youth Centre
  • Datchet Youth Centre
  • Eton Wick Youth Centre
  • Larchfield Youth Centre
  • Outdoor provision in Hurley

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The remaining centres will be retained as sub-venues as they were assessed as having the best access for residents.

It was also based on the consultation to see if residents agreed, disagreed or weren’t sure about retaining their youth and children’s centre.

It was heard some voluntary groups will run their own youth club when their centres close and RBWM will work with those groups so they understand what they are taking on and help them get started.

The Pinkneys Green Children’s Centre – which was earmarked for closure – will now be retained but re-purposed into a family contact service, supporting children in care through one-to-one work and contact, and delivering weekly health provisions and evening youth groups.

Cllr Werner – who campaigned to stop the centre’s closure – said he was “relieved” the centre was still providing some provisions for children as well as moving the family centre there.

Another consultation will be launched to consult with centre staff and trade unions.

The hubs will be launched in May 2021.