County council decision forces Hailsham kids’ club closure in

Oaks After School Club, Children's Centre, Hailsham, May 3rd 2013 E19011P
Oaks After School Club, Children's Centre, Hailsham, May 3rd 2013 E19011P

An after school club in Hailsham is being forced to shut after the county council decided to take back the building it operates from.

Children attending the Oaks After School Club will have nowhere to go in July.

The club is being closed because East Sussex County Council wants to turn the building into a support service for vulnerable children.

The club is held in the community centre in Dunbar Road each day from 3.30pm.

The Oaks After School Club has operated from the site in Dunbar Drive since 2007 and has watched 99 children pass through its doors. It currently has 24 children on its register.

Parents and staff have failed to find alternative accommodation, which had led to the closure, said Wayne Spicer, who has a child who attends the club.

The father said: “We are a group of parents desperately trying to fight plans by East Sussex Council, who due to Government cuts and lack of space in the town, plan to close down our after school club which has been running for more than five years.

“As working parents we will have nowhere to send our children.

“This place, dedicated to providing a vital service for the local community - a safe, reliable and professional after school club - will close in July because East Sussex County Council wants to turn it into office space.”

Mr Spicer added that Hailsham was an expanding town, with housing developments by Taylor Wimpey, Redrow and Charles Church, this will inevitably bring new families into the area and the demand for this service will increase.

The club is Ofsted registered and has members from five primary schools in the area.

Mr Spicer said it offers the only after school care in Hailsham.

The next nearest club is in Hellingly but does not have the space to accommodate 24 extra children, Mr Spicer said.

Debbie Adams, East Sussex County Council head of children’s centres services, said: “The council informed the after school club in July last year that we would no longer be able to offer accommodation for the club in Dunbar Drive.

“The club has had a year to find alternative accommodation, which we believe is a reasonable period of notice.

“The space currently used by the after school club is adjacent to premises used by our looked-after children’s service, and we need the space to provide a child-friendly environment for children looked after by the council to have contact with their parents.

“This service will support some of the most vulnerable children in the county.”