CHILDREN'S centres across the borough could be handed over to voluntary organisations in a bid to make communities more "self-supporting".

The council wants to invite external groups to express their interest in five children's centres with the aim of transferring management responsibilities as soon as July.

But the move, which could save the council £136,289, has been called in for scrutiny.

Cllr Bob Caserta asked for the matter to looked at further before any decisions are taken.

He said: "The reason for the call-in is to understand the financial implications and social hardship that will be caused by transferring centres to private ownership."

The proposal comes after it was agreed in October that the Jewel Foundation, a Jewish charity, would take over Sedgley Children's Centre in Bishops Road.

Bury Council said the move was part of a bid to build trust with the Orthodox Haredi community – but it promised to review future arrangements for the management of children's centres across the borough.

A report to cabinet earlier this month listed seven remaining centres in Bury, Radcliffe, Prestwich and Whitefield which are part of a hub and spoke model.

This includes centres which operate from Broad Oak High School and Butterstile, Radcliffe Hall CE Methodist and Woodbank primary schools.

However, two buildings at Redvales and Whitefield would be retained as a base for the council's locality teams, according to the report.

It said: "Children’s centres are such local assets, strategically placed to serve areas of greatest need, but which are not currently used to optimum effect.

"It is proposed that alternative management arrangements be put in place for a number of children’s centres to encourage and enable local communities to make more effective use of the buildings."

No staffing issues would arise as a result of the proposals, the report also said, as these matters were addressed in a recent restructure across the department for children and families.

In 2017, the council tried to engage with community groups with the hope that they would take responsibility for the management and use of former library buildings. This was seen as a "proactive" way of working with the community.

Some libraries have been taken over by external groups, in two instances by schools, but according to the report, not all of these buildings are being used effectively.

The report will be considered by councillors on the overview and scrutiny community on December 19. The meeting will take place at the town hall at 6pm.