The Department for Education have given Darlington Borough Council the go ahead to use former children’s centre for additional education facility.
Haughton Children’s Centre in Darlington which was operated by Darlington Borough Council closed in 2017 after it was used to provide Sure Start services to local families. Since then the building not since been in use.
The Department for Education would usually clawback any funding awarded from a local authority if a building is not being used for its intended purpose.
However in 2020, Darlington’s MP Peter Gibson raised this matter with the Department for Education and has since campaigned and lobbied Ministers to support Darlington Borough Council in reducing the initial clawback. After extensive discussions with Ministers, the Department for Education has agreed to significantly reduce the clawback of over £400,000 to £85,000.
In addition to this, Ministers have also agreed that the council can now consider using the building as an educational facility, subject to suitability.
Peter Gibson MP said, “This is a really positive news, and I am delighted that we have been able to work with the Department for Education to get this result. It has taken a long time to find an appropriate solution and to get the grant clawback reduced.
“The innovative thinking and collaborative working between myself, Darlington Borough Council and the Department of Education could potentially lead to additional educational facilities in Darlington.
“I am grateful to Ministers for meeting with me to discuss this matter and listening to the concerns raised by Darlington Borough Council, resulting in a fantastic outcome.”
Kelly Tolhurst MP, Minister of Schools and Childhood said, “Peter Gibson has worked tirelessly on this issue with multiple ministers over the last three years to help resolve matters between the school, the council and the Department of Education”.