Conservatives vote to close 19 children’s centres

Demo at Shire Hall

4,000 signature-petition

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

 

Children’s centres petition is IN. Decision will now be put to ALL county councillors

The councillor who chairs the Cambridgeshire County Council Children and Young People Committee, Simon Bywater, has announced that the debate on the children’s centre closures will be pulled from the 10th October committee meeting, and will instead be on the agenda of the full council meeting on 17th October. This means all county councillors will vote on the proposals.

Cllr Bywater, who took the chair of the committee in May, has issued the following statement:

“We have had a good response to the Children Centre Public Consultation with over 2000 completed responses. We welcome the level of detailed feedback and engagement we have had during this period of consultation and understand that whilst there has been some substantial support for the proposals from many residents there is also concern from others about some of the proposals.

In acknowledgment of this we have made the decision to take the consultation response and recommendations to Full Council on October 17. This will replace the planned presentation to Children and Young People Committee on October 10. We feel that this will give a wider group of councillors an opportunity to hear a wide range of views and take part in a debate before voting on the recommendations.”

Today, I went to Shire Hall to hand in our petition opposing the children’s centre closures, now on over 3,800 signatures. We will present it on the 17th October. This meeting will be open to the public, but if you wish to speak at the meeting you must inform the council by 10th October.

Help us save Homerton … and 18 other children’s centres!

With other Lib Dem councillors, I have been running a campaign challenging  the County Council’s proposals to ‘redesignate’ (close) 19 children’s centres, including Homerton in Holbrook Road, whose services would be moved to the Central Library in the city centre — costly for families in terms of time and money. Other centres on the hit list are centres in Trumpington, Cherry Hinton and Romsey.

Thank you if you have signed the Liberal Democrat petition opposing the closures, which has now exceeded the target of 3,000 signatures which we set when we launched it in July. We are hoping to use the petition to trigger a council debate on 17th October.

Before that, the closures will be debated at a meeting of the Children and Young People (CYP) Committee on the 10th October (2pm at Shire Hall). I am not on that committee but I shall be attending to speak against the proposals.

Would you be able to go along too, to show support for the campaign to defend the children’s centres, either by greeting councillors and listening to the debate, or by making a short speech challenging the closures? Please let me know if that is something you might be able to do, so that we can co-ordinate.

Thank you to all those who have written to me and other councillors.  Please write to other county councillors too, particularly Conservative ones (it’s the Conservative party that controls the county council, and that is supporting the closures) and the members of the CYP committee.

We have a Facebook page for the campaign: Cambridgeshire Children’s Centre campaign. Do have a look, and share with friends.

Children’s centres consultation

Many thanks to everybody who’s signed our petition opposing the  County Council’s theats of cuts to children’s centres. It’s grown like wildfire since we launched it last Monday; this shows just how much the children’s centres and services are valued, not just by the people who use them but by the whole community.

There are two more things you can do to help:

SPREAD THE WORD

We are on 1,500 signatures after just a week, but we are aiming to get to 3,000 by September, as this will mean we can have a council debate and challenge the decision. So: can you please share the petition with your friends and family (even if you have  done so already)?

We also have some paper forms, so you can collect signatures in person and tell people about the campaign. Please email Amanda: [email protected], or leave a note on our Cambridgeshire Children’s Centres campaign Facebook page and we’ll get some forms to you.

SPEAK UP

The County Council has now launched its official consultation, which you can find at https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/children-and-families/children-s-centres/children-s-centres-consultation/. As you can see, there are very few facts or figures behind their proposals, and they seem to be struggling to justify what is really a vicious cost-cutting exercise. Please take part, and make sure they know what you think of their plans.

The consultation runs until 22nd September. As  the school holidays are a difficult time for families, we asked the Council if they would keep the consultation open later, but our request has been ignored.

The County is putting on a consultation event on 3rd August (2.30-4.30pm) at the Arbury Community Centre in Campkin Road. As in other areas, the consultation events are not near the centres that are under threat.

Homerton Children’s Centre will have staff available to discuss the consultation at their summer events, starting with one in Holbrook Park this Friday morning (21st July), 10-1130am. Tesco’s is kindly fundingsnacks.

Homerton CC SUMMER 2017

 

Conservatives threaten our children’s centres

Conservative councillors have today voted in favour of going ahead with a consultation to close 19 children’s centres, including Homerton Children’s Centre in Holbrook Road.

The centres themselves were only told last Tuesday, just as a public consultation is about to start.

In Cambridge, the Tories will also close children’s centres at Romsey Mill, Fawcett, and Cherry Hinton, which they say are ‘not needed’. Families are expected to  travel to other areas– eg Homerton families are directed to the Central Library in the city centre. Quite a distance if you are taking small children, and an extra cost if you have to pay bus fares or park in town.

The proposals have been met with anger and indignation by local people. A petition calling for a halt to the proposals has gained nearly 1,000 signatures in just 2 days.

Today I attended the County Council’s Children & Young People Committee and told them:

“Homerton Children’s Centre not only supports the excellent nursery education, but it provides a range of vital services to families: baby clinics and benefits advice and, at the sharp end, they deal with cases of mental health and domestic abuse.

If these services are taken away, the needs will not disappear but will still have to be met, by the NHS, the police and the councils. The Council’s £1m saving will cost that and more to other services, as well as the cost to quality of life.

It’s hard to see how families are going to access services easily if they have to go all the way into town to Central Library. This will not only turn a short visit into a lengthy trip in and out of town, but it will mean families have to pay for bus fares or parking. In practice, this will reduce the take-up from those who most benefit from the services.”

To make matters worse, the council’s consultation will run through the school holidays, 17th July – 22nd September – the worst possible time for families.

Liberal Democrats on the committee asked for the proposals to be sent back for more work, and for the consultation to be delayed until the beginning of next term but were outvoted by the Conservatives, who voted en bloc to go ahead.

We will continue to oppose these proposals to close children’s centres and to challenge the assumptions behind them. If you would like to join our campaign, please sign our petition opposing the closures, and follow our Facebook page Cambridgeshire Children’s Centres campaign.

Morley Memorial school development gets go-ahead

Morley passed!

On Thursday 16th March, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Planning Committee passed plans for the developments at Morley Memorial Primary School.

The developments will bring the entire school onto a single site, and create three new classrooms, as well as make improvements to toilets, windows and the boiler, which will save the school money on maintenance. The details of the plans and the council report can be read here.

Local residents and Morley parents, staff and governors attended the meeting to listen to and participate in the debate. So did a prospective Morley pupil, a delightful gurgly baby called Hannah, whose presence reminded us what it’s all about.

Pamela McLeman and Mary O’Flynn, a former school caretaker, articulated concerns about loss of open space, and parking and traffic.

The Head, Nikki Brown, spoke of why the changes are needed and how they would improve the day-to-day logistics of school life as well as cater properly for pupils and staff with disabilities – and make all the children feel part of the school.

I spoke in support of the application, while recognizing the tension between traffic and the educational needs. You can read my speech here: Morley planning application

Councillors were impressed with the plans, praising the way the architectural design of the new build would blend with the old buildings, and showing an appreciation of how the school has balanced the need for play space. There was an understanding of the traffic and parking problems but an acceptance that parking is a problem at all schools, and that it was not of sufficient weight to stand in the way of the school’s improvements.

Construction traffic and pedestrians and cyclists do not mix, especially for young children and I asked if the condition on delivery hours could be amended to be well clear of school finishing time. I am pleased that this was taken up. Deliveries will now have to be completed by 2.45pm in termtime.

Contractors will be encouraged to use Park & Ride, as there will be no parking on Blinco Grove except for the school car park.

Morley Memorial plans

morley-plansOur local primary school, Morley Memorial, is up for improvements. The school is over 100 years old and some of its buildings need to be be brought up to modern standards.

The County Council has plans for the school to have three new classrooms plus long overdue repairs. The changes will enable the whole school to be on one site, bringing the Reception class from the two-storey Early Years house on the south side of Blinco Grove over to join the rest of the school. Having all the children at ground floor level and avoiding the need to get 50 small children across the road twice or three times a day will be safer and allow more time for education and play.

The Council intends to convert the Early Years building into a day centre, which will provide much needed day care places for children of working parents.

Morley’s governing body and the County Council have been working up the plans for years, and the planning application was lodged in September. Consultation has been very quiet, and there have only been two public representations, both objections. So the Council has extended the consultation deadline: you now have until the first week of January to comment. The application will be determined (by the County Council Planning Department) on 19th January.

 

Schools on strike tomorrow

Teachers from the NUT are on strike tomorrow.

The NUT says the strike demands are to increase funding to schools and education, guarantee terms and conditions in all types of schools, and to resume negotiations on teacher contracts to allow workload to be addressed.

Is your child’s school open or closed tomorrow? This listing is based on information from the County Council, the Cambridge News and school websites.

Abbey Meadows Primary School Closed

Abbots Ripton Primary School Closed

Alconbury Primary School Open

Alderman Jacobs Primary School Partially open

Alderman Payne Primary School Partially open

All Saints Primary School

Arbury Primary School Closed

Ashbeach Primary School Open

Babraham Primary School Open

Bar Hill Primary School Open

Barnabas Oley Primary School Partially open

Barrington Primary School Open

Barton Primary School Closed

Bassingbourn Primary School Open

Bassingbourn Village College Closed

Beaupre Primary School Open

Bellbird Primary School Open

Benwick Primary School Open

Bewick Bridge Primary Open

Bottisham Primary School Open

Bottisham Village College Partially open

Bourn Primary School –

Brampton Village Primary School Open

Brington Primary School Open

Brunswick Nursery School Open

Buckden Primary School

Burrough Green Primary School Open

Burrowmoor Primary School Open

Burwell Village College (Primary) Open

Bury Primary School Open

Bushmead Primary School Open

Caldecote Primary School Open

Cambourne Village College

Castle Camps Primary School Open

Castle Special School Closed

Cavalry Primary School Partially closed

Centre School, Cottenham Open

Cherry Hinton Primary Open

Chesterton Community College Open

Chesterton Primary School –

Cheveley Primary School Partially open

Clarkson Infant School Partially open

Coates Primary School Open

Coleridge Community College School Open

Colleges Nursery and Family Centre Closed

Colville Primary School Open (partially closed)

Comberton Village College Open

Coton Primary School Open

Cottenham Primary School Partially open

Cottenham Village College Open

County School, Cambridge Open

County School, Fenland Open

County School, Huntingdon Open

Cromwell Community College

Cromwell Park Primary School Open

Crosshall Infant School Open

Crosshall Junior School –

Ditton Lodge Community Primary School Open

Downham Feoffees Primary School Partially open

Dry Drayton Primary School Closed

Duxford Primary School Open

Earith Primary School Partially open

Eastfield Infant and Nursery School Open

Elm Primary School Partially open

Elm Road Primary School Open

Elsworth Primary School Open

Elton Primary School Open

Ely College Partially open

Ely St John’s Primary School Partially open

Ely St Mary’s Junior School Partially open

Ernulf Academy Partially open

Eynesbury Primary School Partially open

Farcet Primary School Open

Fawcett Primary School Partially open

Fen Ditton Primary School Open

Fen Drayton Primary School Open

Fenstanton and Hilton Primary School Open

Folksworth Primary School Open

Fordham Primary School Partially open

Fourfields Primary School Open

Fowlmere Primary School Open

Foxton Primary School Open

Friday Bridge Primary School Open

Fulbourn Primary School Partially open

Gamlingay First School Open

Gamlingay Village College Open

Girton Glebe Primary School Partially open

Glebelands Primary School Open

Godmanchester Primary School Open

Gorefield Primary School Open

Granta Special School Open

Great Abington Primary School Open

Great Gidding Primary School Partially open

Great and Little Shelford Primary School Partially open

Great Paxton Primary School Closed

Great Staughton Primary School Open

Great Wilbraham Primary School Open

Grove Primary School Open

Guilden Morden Primary School Open

Guyhirn Primary School Open

Harbour Special School Partially open

Hardwick Primary School Partially open

Harston and Newton Primary School Open

Hartford Infants’ School Open

Hartford Junior School Open

Haslingfield Primary School Open

Hatton Park Primary School –

Hauxton Primary School Open

Hemingford Grey Primary School Partially open

Highfield Special School Partially open

Hinchingbrooke School Partially open

Histon Early Years Centre Open

Histon and Impington Infant School Closed

Histon and Impington Junior School –

Holme Primary School –

Holywell Primary School Partially open

Homerton Nursery School Open

Houghton Primary School Open

Huntingdon Nursery School Open

Huntingdon Primary School Open

Icknield Primary School Open

Impington Village College Partially open

Isleham Primary School Open

Jeavons Wood Primary School Open

Kennett Primary School Open

Kettlefields Primary School Open

Kimbolton Primary Academy Open

Kinderley Primary School Open

Kings Hedges Nursery School Open

Kings Hedges Primary School Open

Kingsfield Primary School Partially open

Lantern Primary School Partially open

Leverington Primary School –

Linton Heights Junior School Partially open

Linton Infants’ School Open

Linton Village College Partially open

Lionel Walden Primary School Open

Little Paxton Primary School Open

Little Thetford Primary School Open

Littleport Primary School Open

Longsands Academy Partially open

Manea Primary School Open

Maple Grove Infant School Open

Mayfield Primary School Partially open

Meadow Primary School Open

Meadowgate Special School Open

Melbourn Primary School Open

Melbourn Village College Open

Meldreth Primary School Open

Mepal and Witcham Primary School Open

Meridian Primary School Open

Middlefield Primary School

Millfield Primary School Open

Milton Primary School Partially open

Milton Road Primary School Partially open

Monkfield Park Primary School Partially open

Morley Memorial Primary School Partially open

Murrow Primary School –

Neale-Wade Community College Partially open

Nene Infant & Ramnoth Junior Academy Open

Netherhall School Closed

New Road Primary School Open

Newnham Croft Primary School Open

Newton Primary School Closed
North Cambridge Academy –

Oakington Primary School Open

Offord Primary School Open

Orchard Park Primary School Partially open

Orchards Primary School Closed

Over Primary School Open

Park Lane Primary School Open

Park Street Primary School Open

Parkside Community College –

Peckover Primary School –

Pendragon Community Primary School Open

Petersfield Primary School Open

Pilgrim Pru Open

Priory Junior School Open

Priory Park Infant School Open

Queen Edith Primary School Partially open

Queen Emma Primary School Partially open

Rackham Primary School Open

Ramsey Junior School Open

Ramsey Spinning Infant School Open

Ridgefield Primary School Partially open

Robert Arkenstall Primary School Open

Round House Primary School –

Samuel Pepys Special School Closed

Sawston Village College – Open

Sawtry Community College Partially open

Sawtry Infants School Open

Sawtry Junior School Open

Shirley Primary and Nursery School Partially open

Sir Harry Smith Community College

Soham Village College Open

Somersham Primary School Open

Spaldwick Primary School Open

Spinney Primary School Open

Spring Common Special School Partially open

Spring Meadow Infant School Closed

St Alban’s Primary School Closed

St Andrew’s Primary School Open

St Anne’s Primary School Open

St Bede’s Inter-Church School Partially open

St Helen’s Primary School Partially open

St Ivo School –

St John’s Primary School, Huntingdon Partially open

St Laurence’s Primary School Closed

St Luke’s Primary School, Cambridge Open

St Mary’s Primary School Open

St Matthew’s Primary School Closed

St Paul’s Primary School Open

St Peter’s Junior School, Wisbech Partially open

St Peter’s Secondary School, Huntingdon Partially open

St Philip’s Primary School Partially open

Stapleford Primary School Open

Steeple Morden Primary School Open

Stilton Primary School Open

Stretham Primary School Open

Stukeley Meadows Primary School Open

Sutton Primary School Partially open

Swaffham Bulbeck Primary School Open

Swaffham Prior Primary School Open

Swavesey Primary School Open

Swavesey Village College –

Teversham Primary School Open

The Fields Children’s Centre Closed

The Shade Primary school Open

Thomas Clarkson Community College Open

Thomas Eaton Primary School Open

Thongsley Fields Primary School Open

Thorndown Primary School Partially open

Thriplow Primary School open

Townley Primary School Open

Trinity School: Fenland Open

Trinity School: Foxton Open

Trinity School: Hartford Open

Trumpington Meadows Partially open

Upwood Primary School Open

Vine Inter-Church Primary School Open

Warboys Primary School Open

Waterbeach Community Primary School Closed

Weatheralls Primary School Partially open

Westfield Junior School Partially open

Westwood Junior School Partially open

Wheatfields Primary School Open

Wilburton Primary School Open

William Westley Primary School Open

William de Yaxley Junior School Partially open

Willingham Primary School Open

Winhills Primary School –

Wisbech St Mary Primary School Open

Witchford Village College –

Wyton on the Hill Primary School Open

Yaxley Infant School Open

*Information from Cambridgeshire County Council and school websites. If you have additional information, please add a comment.

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Be a streetscape designer!

There was a good response to last year’s consultation on improving cycling and pedestrian facilities on Queen Edith’s Way. The County Council has arranged a stakeholders’ workshop at The Netherhall School Sports Centre on 15th March to look at the results, and to consider what is feasible given the widths of the carriageway, verge and footway/cycleway. There will be an opportunity to do a bit of road and streetscape designing. The scheme will include improvements to the Queen Edith’s Way/Fendon Road roundabout and the approach on Queen Edith’s Way to the Robin Hood junction.

The conclusions of the workshop will shape the design options proposed in the full public consultation in June. If you would like to attend, contact me for the details.

Why a road safety initiative is frightening parents

Speed up as you approach a school –really?

Speed up as you approach a school –really?

The signs say ’30, 20 zone ends’ — you can see them in Blinco Grove, Hartington Grove and Hinton Avenue. The sign in the picture is in Blinco Grove, home to Morley Memorial Primary School.

Why are our streets still 30mph while streets on the other side of Cherry Hinton Road are 20mph?

The speed limit is changing throughout Cambridge, following last year’s citywide consultation on a change to 20mph, to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. That resulted in a public vote of confidence for changing the limit to 20mph in most residential streets.

The implementation of the 2omph project is being rolled out in four phases. The east area is being done now, and as part of their signage, the Council is installing signs like the one pictured.

But many Queen Edith’s residents have said the signs virtually invite cars to speed into streets such as Blinco Grove, Hartington Grove and Hinton Avenue. Ironically, these streets are used by vulnerable road users, such as children going to Morley Memorial Primary School – just the people the 20mph limit is intended to protect.

People are already reporting cars speeding up as they exit Cherry Hinton Road, egged on by the signage. One parent of young children has described it as ‘terrifying’ to have cars ‘belting down’ our roads, as they rat-run between Cherry Hinton and Hills Roads.

Queen Edith’s should be 20 too by next spring or summer, subject to the traffic regulation orders going through. That’s a long time, plenty long enough for an accident. It would be horrible if an initiative to improve road safety results in an accident because of the timelag.

I have asked the Council to address this unintended consequence. We hope they can come up with a solution.