MP 'saddened and disappointed' at Leeds NSPCC centre closure

A Leeds MP is planning to write to a major children's charity to seek reassurances that services will not be affected by the merger of parts of its West Yorkshire operation.

The NSPCC has amalgamated its Leeds and Bradford services.
The NSPCC has amalgamated its Leeds and Bradford services.

The NSPCC, which has had a presence in Leeds since 1888, has shut its centre at Stanningley Road in Bramley after deciding to amalgamate its Leeds and Bradford services.

The site. which was the charity’s only centre in Leeds open to the public, has been closed in favour of keeping an equivalent Bradford centre open.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves said she was “saddened and disappointed” about the decision and would be seeking assurances from the NSPCC’s chief executive.

The charity last week said the cost-cutting move would not mean job losses or affect any of its existing services since the vast majority were already offered from venues in local communities.

The centre in Bramley, which was owned by the charity, had undergone a major refurbishment in 2012.

At the time, the charity had said it was pleased to be maintaining and strengthening the NSPCC’s presence in the city.

Labour MP Ms Reeves said: “I am saddened and disappointed about the NSPCC centre in Bramley, the only one in Leeds, closing.

“In 2011, the local community and I worked hard with the NSPCC to save the site, which was then threatened with closure. We were successful and also ensured that a major refurbishment would go ahead.

“The decision to close Bramley is part of a wider amalgamation of services, but more guarantees are needed to ensure that those most in need in Leeds will not lose out by having the closest NSPCC centre in Bradford. Therefore, I will be writing to Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, to get those guarantees.”

Leeds city councillors were only alerted to the recent closure after they were contacted by a member of the public.

Coun Kevin Ritchie, who represents Bramley and Stanningley, said: “The service manager accepted she should have given us a briefing, but I was reassured that they didn’t deliver many services from there. It was mainly offices.

“I was told it was about cutting costs, which many local authorities are also being forced to do.”

He said one weekly drop-in session run out of the centre, which was due to take a two-month break from the end of this month, would resume in the new year at a new Leeds venue.

An NSPCC spokesman said: “In order to reach more children and families, we’re changing some of the ways we work and by merging the Bradford and Leeds centres we’ll be able to help more children. There won’t be any job losses and all services will continue as normal.”

Staff working in Leeds will still be able to make use of the NSPCC’s regional administrative office in the city centre if needed.

However, the only NSPCC site open to the public in either city will now be its base at Eastbrook Hall in Bradford.

Coun Ritchie said: “We do value the work of the NSPCC, a lot of which is in partnership with Leeds City Council, and the main point is services aren’t being cut.”

The charity said it was also expanding its schools service in the area.

Safeguarding experts have reached around 29,000 children in Yorkshire through the Speak Out Stay Safe programme, which aims to visit every UK primary school every two years.