‘Best birthday present’ as Lancing Children and Family Centre to stay open

The news that the threatened Lancing children and family would be staying open was described as the best birthday present by a councillor who fought to save it.

West Sussex County Council consulted on a redesign of its early help services earlier this year.

Part of the proposal was to close all drop-in centres and most of the children and family centres – which would have left just one in the Adur district, in Shoreham.

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Ann Bridges, who sits on Adur district and Lancing parish councils, has been fighting to keep the Lancing children and family centre open.

Councillor Ann Bridges outside the Lancing Children & Family Centre

She said: “The residents of Lancing and Sompting combined were greater in number than Shoreham. The centre has a toy library, breastfeeding classes and parenting advice – really useful to new mums.”

Mrs Bridges, a retired social worker, bombarded West Sussex County Council with emails providing facts, figures and reasons why the centres should not be closed, and encouraged Lancing and Sompting villagers to make known their own views.

Fellow Conservative councillor Andy McGregor also joined the fight, emailing the county council criticising the potential loss of the Lancing centre.

Last Wednesday was Mrs Birdges’ birthday, and at last she got the news she had been waiting for – an email from Paul Marshall, leader of West Sussex County Council, confirming Lancing’s children and family centre is being retained.

Mr McGregor said: “On Wednesday, July 7, Ann’s birthday, she got the best present of all and was sent the news that the county council had decided to keep Lancing children and family centre open.”

Mrs Bridges added: “It was the highlight of my birthday.”