Back in 2016 Westminster Conservatives made the short sighted decision to close children’s centres across Westminster, undermining efforts to help children most in need while depriving families from all backgrounds of opportunities for play and support.
One of the most egregious examples of the Conservative cuts was to the purpose built Bayswater Children’s Centre on Shrewsbury Rd, at the border of Westbourne and Bayswater wards.
For now the ground floor of the building is still used by Fit for Sport as a holiday club, while the meeting rooms and offices on the top floor were being used short-term space for a local school during Covid.
However the Council has confirmed that future of site uncertain as it has been included as part of Westminster’s ‘Rationalisation of Council Buildings’ review, due to report by August 2021. According to information given to Council committees the ‘options appraisal broadly looks at:-
- Re-purposing the property for alternative council use;
- Leasing the property in its current condition or letting once improvements are made;
Given the lack of public buildings in the Westbourne Park and Bayswater area and the urgent need for support for young families Labour is campaigning for the council to retain control of the building and reopen it as a children’s focused community hub. Labour believes the Council should restore ‘stay and play’ drop-ins and vital outreach services, as part of a diverse package of activities for local children and their parents. While the focus for the site should remain for children and families this would not prevent Westminster housing staff and other community teams from being able to flexibly use the onsite offices, enabling them to be closer to the residents they are supporting.
Labour Group Leader and Westbourne Councillor Adam Hug said “It is deeply concerning that Westminster Council is considering selling off the Bayswater Children’s Centre, little over ten years after it was built. After the challenges of the pandemic young families in Westminster need more support and opportunities so this purpose built space should be used to deliver it. Labour believes the centre should be reopened a children’s and community hub and if elected to run the council in 2022 we will work to make this a reality.”
Bayswater Councillor Maggie Carman said “Families across Bayswater used to benefit from the children’s centre in the past and they still use the holiday club there today. Our local community needs more services for children and families not fewer.”
Angela Piddock, Westbourne Labour Candidate, said “The Conservative closure of Children’s Centres made life harder for children and families across Westminster. We need a Labour council in 2022.”