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Diss children's centre has been saved

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Diss Infant and Nursery School with Children's Centre. Picture Mecha Morton
Diss Infant and Nursery School with Children's Centre. Picture Mecha Morton

Norfolk County Council’s children’s services committee has voted to set up an early childhood and family service from October, following a five and a half hour debate, today.

It means there will also be a network of 15 bases - including Diss and Long Stratton - offering outreach support across the county and delivering Early Childhood and Family Services for families living nearby.

Centres in Harleston and Attleborough, however, will be closed.

Committee chairman, councillor Stuart Dark, said: “We’ve had a long and detailed debate today and committee has backed our proposals. I’m confident the new service will provide a more targeted, consistent and accessible approach, in line with national best practice.

“We’ve listened to the consultation responses, so we will offer outreach support in people’s homes and venues across the county, have 15 early childhood and family bases in areas of highest need and run sessions at our 47 libraries. The amount spent on frontline services should rise to 60p per £1.

“It’s our intention that the majority of the current designated children’s centres will continue to be used by groups, to run services for children and families. We will support this with a £500,000 grant fund.”

Today’s vote means that:

There will be a network of 15 bases – offering outreach support across the county

Diss had previously been due to close under the proposed changes but has been saved, along with another seven centres, following a consultation and review earlier this month.

The bases will run group activities, open to all families in the area – and Norfolk’s 47 libraries are extending their year-round offer of bounce and rhyme and stay and chat sessions, open to all families

The proportion spent on frontline delivery, as opposed to building and management costs, will rise from 39 per cent under the current contracts to around 60 per cent

The council intends that the majority of the remaining sites would continue to be used by providers of services for children and families – supported by a £500,000 grant fund

£250,000 will be provided each year for community development work, to help to ensure a strong network of support in communities

The amount spent on the service will be £5.2m , as previously agreed – as part of a wider, £65m spend on services for children aged 0-5

The new service aims to:

Provide targeted support for families with children aged 0-5

Offer help so that all families can connect with local support and universal early childhood activities

Operate 15 early childhood and family support bases and use a range of local delivery venues

Contribute to joint working and maintaining partnerships as part of securing a local early childhood offer

Invest £250,000 in community development to ensure there are strong networks of support

Support an enhanced online and digital information, advice and guidance offer for families

The locations of the early childhood and family bases are:



Thetford (Kingsway)



Drayton and Taverham

Great Yarmouth borough:

Great Yarmouth (Priory)


King’s Lynn & West Norfolk borough:

Downham Market

The Nar

North Norfolk:


North Walsham

Norwich city:

Catton Grove, Fiddlewood, Mile Cross (CFM)

City and Eaton


South Norfolk:


Long Stratton

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