Hundreds sign petition against cuts to Crawley family centre services

A mother said her campaign against cuts to family centres’ services was ‘gaining momentum’.

Jemma Rowberry, 31, a test analyst, of Bellamy Road, Maidenbower, set up an e-petition to oppose West Sussex County Council’s plans to cut drop-in sessions at children and family centres.

jpco-19-5-14 Mums petition against family centre cuts (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140520-113343001

jpco-19-5-14 Mums petition against family centre cuts (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140520-113343001

More than 300 people have signed the petition, including Crawley MP Henry Smith, Chris Oxlade, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Crawley, and a number of borough councillors.

Jemma said: “We’ve already managed to get a meeting with the local MP.

“Local councillors have signed and we’re getting more.

“We just want the opportunity to make our points and be heard.”

She will meet with Henry Smith MP on Friday (May 23).

Mr Smith called on the county council to reconsider any plans to close the Bumps and Babies groups at family and children centres.

He said he had been ‘very concerned’ after mothers contacted him about the issue.

Jemma and her husband Stuart, 36, have a nine-month-old son, Oscar. She attends Maidenbower and Pound Hill Family Centre with him and found out the Discovery Time sessions they go to will end.

She said: “I was really shocked, it came completely out of the blue.”

Jemma said she was told the last session would be held on Tuesday (May 20).

All but two centres will have their Babies and Bumps sessions cut, and those remaining will be made invite-only for lone parents or those on low incomes, said Jemma.

She added: “I will have two days off work a week. That group is something I attend every week and my son enjoys it.”

A county council spokesman said: “We are sorry that these changes have happened so quickly, without allowing time for alternative options to be explored.”

The council has postponed the cuts until the end of the summer term.

For the petition, visit