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.

Cambridge Joint Area Committee

Since September, I have been chairing the Cambridge Joint Area Committee (CJAC for short) is a joint County/City Council committee that handles a number of traffic-related matters in the City of Cambridge, including:

  1. Determining priorities for the Local Highway Improvement Initiative
  2. Traffic management, parking regulation, cycle and pedestrian schemes
  3. Advising on on-street and off-street parking charges.
  4. Advise on priorities for Section 106 funding for traffic management and other transport schemes
  5. Determining objections to Traffic Regulation Orders
  6. Resolving detailed design issues for traffic management proposals

The next meeting is on Tuesday 22nd 20th January, and councillors will be taking decisions on new parking restrictions on the Accordia Estate, cycle parking in Thoday Street, and pavement café licences in the city centre. To view the agenda, click here.

Not just for children…

trim trailNightingale Recreation Ground is going to have a trim trail, which will give people of all ages the opportunity to keep fit in the open air.

This is being funded by building developers’ ‘Section 106’ contributions.

A trim trail was one of the ideas put forward by residents at a seminar last autumn on ideas for improving the local community, and Cambridge City Council is consulting on the specifics, such as the location within the park, and what equipment should be included.

Your views are valuable whether you are a possible user of the trim trail, or a user of the existing facilities. Please have a look at the on line survey, and say what you think:

https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/fitness-equipment-consultation

and please share the survey with anyone you know who lives in the area. Closing date is 12th July.

What is a ‘trim trail’? 

The term ‘trim trail’ usually means a series of wooden exercise stations, scattered in parkland or other locations beside a jogging or walking trail, which can be used to develop balance, strength and co-ordination. They are suitable for both adults and children, and the individual stations are scientifically designed to provide a range of exercise. Most have simple instructions attached and can include balance beams, sit-up bars, chin-up bars, parallel bars, and more challenging feats such as pole climbs and ladder walks.

You can see trim trails locally at Romsey Recreation Ground and Cherry Hinton Hall.