CAMPAIGNERS have mobilised across Dudley to fight plans to close children's centres as cash-stapped councillors' coffers run dry.

The borough council last week announced a consultation on a scheme to save £2.3m by axing seven of its 20 Sure Start centres.

Under the proposal centres including Gornal, Quarry Bank and Kingswinford and Wall Heath will shut completely and centres at Bromley Pensnett, Woodside, Netherton Park and Priory would be among others downgraded.

Sarah Shotton, aged 23, who uses the Bromley Pensnett centre with her two-year-old daughter Misha, has started a petition opposing the plan and has already gathered more than 200 signatures.

She said: "Everybody is just disgusted and scared, it is like a family here, the staff are amazing.

"This centre has done so much for me and my daughter, being a single parent I found it a struggle and going to children's centres builds up lots of confidence - they are always there.

"If they want to save money they should find something else that the community doesn't need as badly."

Dudley Councillors blame cuts to grants from central government for a black hole in their budget which means a total saving of £26m needs to be found throughout the entire authority over the next three years.

The council spends around £250m each year and is warning a further £32m will have to be slashed from spending after government grants were cut by more than expected.

Councillor Tim Crumpton, Dudley’s cabinet member for children’s services and lifelong learning, said: “We face unprecedented cuts in funding across all of our public services and it is with a great deal of sadness that we are putting forward proposals to reduce the number of children’s centres and the service that we provide.

“This is not a course of action that any of us in the cabinet would want to take but the cuts of millions in funding to the council mean we face extremely difficult decisions.”

He stressed the proposed closures and changes have not been “set in stone” and said he would be seeking the views of staff and centre users before making a final decision.

The consultation closes on Friday January 3, full details on the plan plus how to take part in the consultation can be found at or from the council's Directorate of Children’s Services, Westox House, Trinity Road, Dudley, DY1 1JQ.

Meanwhile a meeting for parents will take place at the Bromley Pensnett centre on Saturday December 7 at 3pm to discuss the council's plans.