Four children's centres in Hounslow are expected to close, despite more than 2,800 people signing petitions to save them.

Feltham Hill, Duke's Meadows, Norwood Green and Syon children's centre would all be closed by Hounslow Council under plans to be voted on at next Tuesday's (December 15) cabinet meeting.

Chiswick Children's Centre was originally proposed for the chop but it would now provide a mix of free childcare and children's centre facilities, with Duke's Meadow closing instead.

The latest plans would see just five out of 18 existing children's centres retained as they are, with the remainder either closing, providing solely free childcare or offering a mixture of childcare and children's centre services.

Children's centres provide a range of services for young children and their families, from play sessions for youngsters to careers advice for their parents.

Council leaders have claimed the shake-up would give youngsters from poorer backgrounds a better start in life, by providing extra free childcare, as well as saving an estimated £1.48m - £0.28m less than originally anticipated.

But critics have argued closing centres, or cutting the activities on offer there, could hinder the development of the many children using them .

The most vocal campaign was that to save Southville Children's Centre , in Bedfont, which would provide solely childcare under the plans.


Nearly 2,400 people signed a petition to keep existing facilities there, and former centre manager Noveen Phillips said she was disappointed the council appeared not to have listened.

"I think this is ill-considered. They've decided to keep the Bedfont centre open, despite Southville having a much bigger capacity," she told getwestlondon.

Families in Feltham, Bedfont and Hanworth took part in the fight to save Southville Children's Centre in Bedfont

"What they're proposing isn't what they're supposed to offer legally, which is a universal service for under-fives.

"Obviously targeting people with the highest levels of deprivation is very important but your average family still expects and is entitled by law to have these kinds of services."

She said without children's centre funding, the community centre which she had helped build up over 10 years from a "urine-soaked mess with boarded up windows" would struggle to run any activities.

MP had backed campaign to save centres

Feltham & Heston MP Seema Malhotra had backed the campaign to save Southville and Feltham Hill children's centres, urging the council to find other ways to "combat the damage" of central government funding cuts.

Nearly 900 people completed questionnaires as part of three-month public consultation on the proposed changes, according to the council.

Almost all those responding said they currently used a children's centre in the borough.

Plans to close children's centres were supported by 26.9% of respondents, with 45.3% opposed and the rest undecided.

More than half, however, or 53% to be precise, said they would use childcare in Hounslow in future if more places were made available for two to four year-olds.

And more than two thirds (70%) said they supported plans to deliver children's centre services from other venues in the borough, like libraries.