Fay Howard outraged by cuts in Surestart and Children’s Centres

David Cameron has made much of  ‘broken britain’ and he has attempted  to blame  Labour, pretending that somehow it was the “over funding” of services that were at the root of it. If Labour were the architects of anything it was how to build families back up from the years of deprivation left over from the Thatcher and Major disaster of 18 years of Tory government.

Surestart is there to give children a sure footing as they make their first steps in life. Labour did not tinker at the edges they had a grand plan some 3,500 Surestart Centres Swindon is fortunate to have 14 of these centres. The centres are more than just a vital public service they put vitality back into the community by helping children and families. This vitality is an investment in the future it is not a luxury child minding service for yummy mummies, it is a tried and tested formula. With 10 years under its belt and hundreds of thousands of children benefiting from them, Surestart Centres are giving children a better start in life. David Cameron himself said of Surestart:

The point is that we support Sure Start, we will keep Sure Start. (Telegraph 11/1/10)

That is why we are shocked to hear that funding to Swindon’s Surestart Centres is being cut by up to 33% . Penhill will bear the brunt of  the cuts and it has caused shock in Penhill as people are outraged by what the Libdem Conservative Coalition is doing. The Tories may lead the coalition, but without the support of the Libdems there would be no coalition government and no cuts.  Cllr David Renard speaking to the Swindon Advertiser did not do anything to calm users  fears by dispelling the rumour, in fact he added to it when he said :

There is a rumour of a third cut in the provision but I don’t think it will look as drastic as that. Until we have worked through everything we are not in a position to be specific”.

Cllr Renard admitted that Penhill was a flagship centre:

The SureStart centre in Penhill was one of the first ones the previous government set up and set up with an extremely generous amount of ring fenced money as it was one of the flagships of the programme,

So why cut it?  Only Tories would downgrade a flagship what they hope to do is to shave funds from each Surestart Centre so that they do not have to close any.  Making a flagship service into a skeleton service will do nothing for the 1000+ children using them in Swindon. This is heartless it is nothing more than a sham they do not want to close one centre, but will let them wither away. It is nothing less than political  vandalism of a vital service. A cruel cut that will hit thousands of Swindon  children now and in future.

Also affected are Childrens Centres in Penhill, Goddard Park, Westcott St, Freshbroom, Drove Rd, Gorsehill, Middleleaze, Eldene, Stratton, Highworth, Croft and Abbeymeads.

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Fay Howard, Councillor for Parks and Labour Spokesperson for Children and Youth Services;  Steve Wakefield, Councillor Toothill & Westlea;  Paul baker, Councillor Penhill.