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

 

County Council budget consultation

budgetCambridgeshire County Council is seeking economies of nearly £150m over the next five years, to cope with a growing population and less funding from central government. The Council has launched its annual consultation and is asking residents for views on what the priorities should be for 2015/16.

Residents are being asked to give the council their views on where it should be saving money. An online consultation has been launched this week (August 11) and there will also be door-to-door surveying. The survey looks at specific issues surrounding our savings whilst also seeking public opinion around council tax levels.

You can contribute on the County’s dedicated budget site, which shows graphically how the ‘cake’ is divided at present (two huge slices for children’s and adults services, a modest slice for transport and slivers for everything else).

There is a series of questions about the Council’s current objectives and you’re asked to say how important they are firstly for you and your family; and secondly, for Cambridgeshire as a whole. There’s also a chance to choose three areas to spend extra money on in the (unlikely) event that finances improve.

Then the slightly academic questions of whether you would raise council tax in order to avert cuts to services, or to improve them. Academic because for many years, councils have been capped, not allowed by central government to raise council tax by more than 2%.

Comments about the Council’s priorities or ideas for delivering services better or more efficiently can also be sent to:

Research & Performance Team: Budget Consultation, SH1306 Shire Hall, Castle Hill, Cambridge CB3 0AP

The consultation closes on 29 September 2014.

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…)

Giving it up for Romsey Mill

My employer, Cambridge University Press, is a partner of Romsey Mill, and I thought I would tell you about their seasonal appeal.

Romsey Mill is a charity that helps young people all over Cambridgeshire: it’s a Christian charity, but you don’t have to be a Christian to want to help!

This is what they have to say: (more…)