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.

Speaking up for nursing mothers

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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Objection to the Park & Ride parking charges Traffic Regulation Order

P&RI have just written my formal objection to the Tory plan to introduce parking charges at the Park & Ride sites. Anyone parking for more than hour will face a £1 charge, which rises to £30 depending on how long you park for. There are season tickets for weekly, four-weekly and annual parkers, although the weekly parking ticket offers no discount over the daily charge. The parking charges will be on top of bus fares.

Formal objection to TRO PR0074

The Council invites representations and comments and I am sure they will receive plenty; although as the Tories have already taken the decision, the consultation appears artificial. You might wish to comment on the charging structure, eg season tickets.

The parking charges are being imposed to stem the deficit in the Park & Ride accounts and in the words of Cllr MacGuire, the Tory councillor in charge of the Park & Ride sites, ‘to catch’ people who don’t take the bus in after parking, but walk or cycle.

Liberal Democrats have warned of the risk of reducing usage of the Park & Ride sites, pushing parking elsewhere as well as increasing traffic in the city. We would prefer other ways of making money at the sites to be investigated, such as small-scale retail concessions, or reviewing bus operators’ departure charges.

Here is the formal traffic regulation order: P&R TRO

Send your comments to [email protected] by 14th February, quoting reference PR0074.