Child care service sites to merge

Councillors Jonathan Brash(left) and Chris Simmons.
Councillors Jonathan Brash(left) and Chris Simmons.
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COUNCIL plans to relocate an out-of-school child care service under one roof have been agreed.

The OSCARS childcare service, which is run by Hartlepool Borough Council, will operate from West Rugby Club, in Catcote Road, from the end of March next year.

The restructure is likely to mean two staff being made redundant.

OSCARS – which caters for four to 16-year-olds – is currently based at Miers Avenue Sure Start building and Owton Manor Community Centre.

Across the two sites the service can take a maximum of 133 children in both the after school and holiday clubs.

But officers recommended the service moves to one site in a bid to make it more sustainable.

Seven posts will be deleted as a result of the merger, five of which are currently vacant.

Labour group leader on the council, Coun Chris Simmons, portfolio holder for children’s services, rubber-stamped the proposals at a meeting.

A report said the rugby club offered a secure environment that would be exclusively used by OSCARS service with appropriate kitchen and toilet facilities.

There is also a large outdoor space and enough car parking for parents to drop off and pick up their children.

Coun Simmons said: “Obviously officers have looked at all of the options in the town.

“We will just have to suck it and see.

“An update report will come back next summer to see how it is going.”

Venues including Throston Community Centre, Owton Manor Community Centre, Burbank and West View Community Centre and Mill House Leisure Centre were all looked at.

Officers moved to reassure Coun Simmons that the department does all it can to support families, that it is the most appropriate venue and that the majority of the children are either dropped off by parents or picked up by the service.

Danielle Swainston, Sure Start, extended services and early years manager, told the meeting that while there is a risk that parents will not want to travel to the new site others may find the new site more suitable.

The OSCARS after school club service runs from 3.15pm-6pm for 39 weeks a year.

Meanwhile, the holiday club service operates from 8.30am-5.45pm for 11 weeks of the year.

The service is closed for two weeks over the Christmas period.