Conservative councillors have voted en bloc to close 19 children’s centres across the county, including Homerton, Romsey Mill and Cherry Hinton in this area.
The decision has been met with widespread dismay from parents concerned about the loss of vital services, including post-natal care, parenting classes and work with troubled families – all for a £1 million saving.
Nearly 4,000 people signed a petition set up by me with other Liberal Democrats which called on the Conservatives to reverse their proposals.
Many families attended the council debate on Tuesday, including some from this area, and eleven people spoke on the importance of children’s centres.
This is a brutal decision, which will cause lasting damage to many children and families. Early intervention with children is vital, and I fear that problems not picked up when children are young are likely to become more embedded, costing more to put right in the long run. The decision is even more sickening when you remember that only a few months ago, Conservative councillors voted themselves a massive pay rise.
CCC CC speech Oct 17
The breastfeeding drop-in group that meets at Homerton Children’s Centre has been told it will have to close at Christmas due to funding cuts. Today, I took the campaign to Shire Hall, and urged councillors responsible for health and children’s services to help me identify funding to keep it going. I have received assurances that the issue of how breastfeeding support is funded in the county will be explored and I am very much hoping we can find alternative sources of funding for the group based at Cambridge’s Homerton Children’s Centre.
I am deeply concerned by the decision to cut this group’s funding. It’s short-sighted, and probably will not even save any money, as the children may miss out on the long-term health benefits of breast-feeding. It is a well-documented fact that breast-feeding boosts a child’s immunity making it less susceptible to developing allergies and it is so important for bonding between mother and baby.
I visited the group recently and discovered that it not only serves mothers in this area, but all over the city and beyond, offering advice and helping mothers finding it difficult to breastfeed.
Organisers of the group are campaigning to have its funding reinstated and have so far raised more than £900 in donations towards a £5,000 target which will allow it to become a charitable organisation and apply for grants. Anyone interested in finding out more or donating can go to: http://bfsupportmatters.org.uk/
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