A SURE Start children’s centre in Glusburn could close under cost-cutting proposals by North Yorkshire County Council- but could then reopen as a private nursery.

The council is set to carry out a consultation on closing South Craven Children’s Centre, which opened in April 2011 at Glusburn Community Primary School, as well as four other children’s centres - now known as children and families hubs - in the county.  The South Craven centre was backed with £676,431 of government Sure Start funding but did not reopen following the pandemic.

It has been used as office space for Harrogate and District NHS Trust staff and also as a meeting space for families in the area.

A report from the council's children and young people's service to executive members on Tuesday (March 7) says that the closure would save the council £12,600 a year. It also says some children’s services have moved online which has reduced the need for the facility.  Because the centre was backed with capital funding, the government could ask for the money back, although it is not anticipated.

However, the authority says it has been approached by a private nursery provider about leasing the premises, which would mean the building would still offer early years provision. It could also generate an annual rental income of £6,000.

Sure Start was a flagship policy of Tony Blair’s Labour government and was launched to improve children’s life chances, with local authority-controlled centres set up to support early learning for children under five.

However, since the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government and the introduction of austerity measures, more than 1,000 Sure Start centres have closed.

Between 2014 and 2016, North Yorkshire County Council closed 13 children’s centres with a total Sure Start government investment of £3,643,140, which it was not required to pay back.

Children’s centres in Kirkbymoorside, Pateley Bridge, Eastfield and Askrigg are also recommended for closure or to be repurposed in the latest consultation, which would save the council a total of £138,000 according to the report. Councillors will meet next Wednesday to discuss the proposal.

In the report, Stuart Carlton, the county council's corporate director of children and young people’s service, writes: “The buildings proposed for de-designation were not used during the pandemic due to low frequency of use and have not re-opened whilst previous levels of service delivery have continued through alternative service delivery offers including community buildings and outreach.

“Rationalising the number of buildings will enable greater integration of service delivery alongside achieving savings.”

Councillors at Tuesday's meeting will be asked to approve consultations on the proposed closures.