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.

More children’s centre drop-in events

Following pressure from a number of concerned councillors and campaigners, the county council has announced eight more drop-in sessions about the proposals to close 19 children’s centres. The times should also be better for many working parents too. Here is an updated list of events with the new ones shown in bold.

Tuesday 15th August, 13:00-15:00, Waterbeach Children’s Centre

Wednesday 23rd August, 13:0-15:00, Oasis Children’s Centre, Wisbech

Thursday 24 August, 16:00-18:00, Cambridge Professional Development Centre, Trumpington
Wednesday 30 August, 14:00-16:00, Murrow Children’s Centre
Tuesday 5 September, 17.00-19.00, Sutton Children’s Centre
Wednesday 6 September, 17.00-19.00, Bar Hill Children’s Centre
Monday 11 September, 17.00-19.00, Linton Children’s Centre
Monday 11 September, 17.00-19.00, Bottisham Children’s Centre
Tuesday 12 September, 16:00-18:00, Ramsey Library
Wednesday 13 September, 18.30-20.00, Papworth Children’s Centre

Consultation on Children’s Centres

Cambridgeshire County Council Children’s Centre team will publish a consultation shortly about new arrangements for Children’s Centres in Cambridgeshire. Some changes are proposed to the current model which will see the merging of some of Cambridgeshire’s children’s centres. Children’s centres have developed in Cambridgeshire since 2005 under the Government’s Sure Start initiative to deliver early intervention and preventative services for families with children under 5 years of age.

Each centre serves a ‘reach’ area where there are between 900 and 1200 children under 5yrs. The April consultation will be about making some adjustments which will include proposals to form a smaller number of larger reach areas with some changes to management arrangements. At present there are no plans or suggestions that any children’s centre buildings should be closed. (more…)