Children’s Centre Closures In Buckinghamshire - Parent wins first battle in court
Campaigners battling against the closure of 19 Children’s Centres in Buckinghamshire have been granted permission to challenge the decision in the High Court
James Betts, the public law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office who is representing a mother fighting to stop the closure of 19 Children’s Centres in Buckinghamshire, said:
Expert Opinion“Strong legal arguments have been made and we have been granted permission by the High Court to proceed on every ground argued. We are pleased the Court agrees our client has an arguable case that needs to be considered further.
“The judge has said the case needs to be heard urgently and a full hearing is to take place on 2-3 July which is great news for all involved.
The universal nature of services offered by children’s centres, provide vital support to local communities and we are pleased that this decision means that parents will have an opportunity to have their case heard. Children’s centres aim to give all children the best possible start in life and enable parents to support their child and family. They provide open access support which can be accessed at any time alongside regular stay and play sessions and parenting courses. These are vital services which support a range of parents and children.
The Court’s decision means that it is now possible the decision to close the centres will be quashed and overturned in as little as three weeks’ time. We look forward to being able to raise the issues in Court again at the full hearing in July.”
James Betts - Solicitor
The mother bringing the claim said:
"I am very happy with the outcome of today, it's been a long process and I'm delighted that parent’s voices are finally being heard. I just want to make sure we do the best we can for our children and the staff from the children centre that have supported me in my journey as a mother and helped give my children the best possible start. The support children centres provide is irreplaceable and it is great that this decisions means there is now a chance the council's decision could be overturned."
Alka Dass, Lead campaigner of Save Bucks Children’s Centres and Co-Founder of National Save Our Children's Centres, said:
‘After fighting this battle for the last two years, I feel like parents can now see the finishing line and can see an outcome. I am ecstatic and cannot believe how far the campaign has come. The fact that this order has been granted for a judicial review gives all parents hope that the children centres could be saved. It’s been a long journey for us as a campaign group and parents have fought hard with protests, petitions, and now finally the judicial review. We are very grateful to this mother who has launched this legal challenge.
The reason why parents and residents support this cause is because children’s centres are a vital service for parents and families. They help make children school ready, help parents to become better parents, provide guidance as well as early intervention and prevention.
These are all important factors to consider but we must remember, a children’s centre is not a centre without the staff that run it. This isn’t just about buildings but about having that support and expertise and just knowing someone is there to help you and listen. The cuts being made by councils are very short-sighted and the costs will build up in response as the support centres provide help ensure parents can get help when it is needed before things get worse. We ask this council, and others, to invest in children’s centres to help ensure all children are able to have the best possible start in life.
This case shows how important children centres are and shows parents in other counties where children’s centres may be at risk, that there are things that can be done.”