Parents have spoken of their upset at the "devastating" news that Stevenage Borough Council is permanently closing its play centres.

At the end of February, the council announced the closure of its free play service in Pin Green, St Nicholas and Bandley Hill, as it struggled to balance its 2023/24 budget.

The council said the discretionary service for families with children aged 0 to 12 would have cost £601,000 to run in 2023/24.

One parent said: "I understand that there have to be cuts made, but what is upsetting is that there has been no consultation, or even suggestions of fundraising from other non-government sources. We - the people who use these services - are the last to know they are closing. It’s devastating."


Another said: "This is such sad news, as both my kids went there for several years. It's such a fantastic service.

"What happens to all the families who use this service, especially in a cost-of-living crisis? Such sad news."

A third added: "What are the young kids meant to do? People don’t have the money to take their kids out. We are struggling like mad and we need these centres, especially during school holidays."

However, Councillor Richard Henry, the council's leader, said the service, which will permanently close on March 31, has not been as well used since the pandemic and it is one of the local authority's biggest areas of discretionary spend.


A spokesperson for the council said: "Our play service is non-statutory and free for users to access. We’re unique in Hertfordshire in still offering this provision.

"Unfortunately, we have some difficult decisions to make in order to fund a £1.5million deficit in our budget for 2022/23, which is primarily a result of increased inflationary costs, as well as a reduction in our government grant.

"Councils up and down the country are having to make tough choices, and we have continued to provide the service despite significant reductions in our budget over the years.

"We know residents value community services and that change can be difficult, but it is important that we look to adapt to make best use of the budget and resources we have available."