A Sure Start centre in Darlington has apparently banned parents from taking prams into the centre on the grounds of health and safety, requiring, instead, that the prams are left outside. Following the results of a risk assessment, parents are now handed bicycle locks and told to chain prams up outside the building.

This has led to obvious concerns for parents over the possible theft of, or damage to, prams and buggies whilst they are left outside. Additionally, it means parents must now place their babies into cold prams when they are ready to leave the centre.

Jenny Chapman, MP for Darlington, said, “I'm sure there were sound practical reasons for suggesting the rule but we need to make sure nothing puts parents off accessing services.”

Whilst Darlington Borough Council have said they will be making further enquiries into the matter, Council member Jenni Cooke said, “We haven't banned people from bringing prams and buggies into the centre but it is a question of safety for everyone who uses it. We've asked people to use their judgement, particularly at busy times, and park their prams and buggies in the covered, on-site buggy park and will provide locks and help people get in and out of the centre if they need help.”