David Cameron's mother's children's centre forced to close due to Government cuts

Mary Cameron has been told the centre where she volunteers in Oxfordshire will close at the end of the month

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Indy Politics

David Cameron’s mother Mary has said she is “very sad” that the children’s centre where she works is to close.

Mrs Cameron, 81, who previously signed a petition against plans to shut 44 children’s centres in her son’s constituency of Whitney, Oxfordshire, spoke out after West Berkshire Council confirmed that Chieveley and Area Children’s Centre in Berkshire would close at the end of the month.

Confirming she volunteered at the centre, she told the Daily Mirror: "I am very sad that it is being closed down but if there’s not enough money to pay for it things have to go.

“I enjoy it very much and have been going there for a year and drive families around occasionally.

“I don’t really know what can be done really as I’ve just heard about it. If it closes down, then I shan’t be volunteering because there will be no one to volunteer for.

“If it keeps going at all, I will obviously go on helping if I can.”

She said she had not asked the Prime Minister about the centre closures because “I don’t interfere”. However she told the Mirror’s reporter: “If you can do anything to help it would be great.”

The centre, which is being closed to help West Berkshire Council save £300,000, caters for about 670 children under five. It provides free courses such as first aid training for babies, general childcare and healthy eating advice.

Mother-of-two Gael Williams, of nearby Hermitage, said: “So many parents use the centre. It will be a huge shame for it to close. A lot of the families at the nearby Army barracks in Hermitage use it and I don’t know what they’d do without it.

“The council may well have plans to change the venues of the sessions offered here but it will be a long drive for many to get elsewhere and some parents don’t even drive so they will be stuck.”

Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell said: “Children’s centres have a fantastic track record of supporting parents and families in those important first few weeks and months as a family.

“David Cameron has said time and again how important parenthood is to him personally and helping families yet his policy of closing down and starving children’s centres of funds flies in the face of those ambitions.”

West Berkshire Council confirmed the closure of the centre.

“We will not be able to provide all of the universal services that we currently do and some may cease,” it said.

“We will maintain popular sessions but will not be able to provide these for free. This may mean some families cannot afford the sessions they use.

“We will stop using four children’s centres, but our services will still be available in community locations.

“This means services will be available in local communities and some families will have less distance to travel.

“However, for others the services may be at a different location, which may be less convenient for them.”