THE South Gwent Children's Centre project will greatly enhance the help available for disabled children and must receive financial backing from the Assembly, says a South East Wales AM.

Plaid Cymru regional AM Mohammad Asghar has written to health minister Edwina Hart to urge her and the Capital Investment Board (CIB), which scrutinises business cases for major NHS projects, to back the centre.

It "would mean the children receiving treatment and therapies under one roof with good facilities, instead of being spread out over a wide area in cramped and unsuitable buildings," writes Mr Asghar in his letter to the minister.

"The community has rallied round this project and a huge local fundraising effort has been ongoing since 2003, raising £370,000."

That fundraising effort has been through the Argus-backed Sparkle Appeal, which will be used to provide a vital family focus to the core NHS functions of the centre, at High Cross, Newport.

Gwent Healthcare Trust has submitted a bid for £5.9 million of Assembly funding for the centre, which will provide an under-one-roof unit for more than 1,200 disabled youngsters in Newport, Torfaen and south Monmouthshire.

The CIB was to have considered the bid on Thursday, but a decision on the funding has now been postponed, probably until late October, to enable further information on details of the project to be submitted.

"I have written to the minister urging her to do everything she and the Assembly's Capital Investment Board can do to ensure that the bid for capital funding for this vital project is approved," Mr Asghar told the Argus.

A letter for Mrs Hart, pledging support for the project, is available for readers to download from the Argus website - - and sign.

The Sparkle Appeal office is also gathering a petition, forms for which can be had from the appeal office at Old Ingram Ward, St Woolos Hospital, Stow Hill, Newport, NP20 5SZ, telephone 01633 656212, e-mail