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March 13, 2009 12:03 AM

A leading Liberal Democrat councillor has launched a campaign to secure a Children's Centre for under 5s and their families in the Heaton and High Heaton areas.

Councillor Greg Stone, Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East, said Newcastle already has a network of more than 10 Childrens Centres, with existing provision in the East End at locations including Walkergate, Byker, and Walker.

The Centres are designed to encourage community involvement in delivery of education, childcare, health, and other services aimed at children aged between 0-5 and their families, and can also provide links to other support for families including job and training advice and family guidance therapy.

Greg Stone, who is also a councillor for North Heaton, said: "The Sure Start Children's Centre programme may have been introduced by the Labour Government but its approach of targeted early years support for young children and their families is in my view a very important one.

"I recently took part in a Lib Dem policy commission on social mobility with the chief executive of Barnardos, Martin Narey, and his report concluded that effective early years support was the single most important factor in improving quality of life and social mobility in the future.

"Existing centres in Newcastle East are proving successful but I believe that all areas of the city should have the opportunity to benefit from local facilities such as these, and therefore I am launching a campaign to secure a Children's Centre for Heaton and High Heaton.

"The creation of a Children's Centre would provide the missing piece of the jigsaw in education in this area, and would tie in well with investment in local primaries such as Cragside and Ravenswood, and the upgrade of Heaton Manor secondary.

"I will be meeting with council education officials to discuss this campaign and to identify prospective sites and funding sources for this proposal."