Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls backs children’s centres on visit to Swindon

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls visited Swindon to meet parliamentary candidate Anne Snelgrove and some of the mum’s who are opposed to cuts to children’s centres in the town.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls visited Swindon to meet parliamentary candidate Anne Snelgrove and some of the mum’s who are opposed to cuts to children’s centres in the town.

The former Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families also took time during his visit to meet young apprentices at Swindon College with Anne.

And they spent the afternoon talking to businesswomen about issues affecting women in the workplace and what Labour will do to improve matters.

Anne said: “This was a great opportunity to show Ed some of the Swindon’s outstanding achievements – an outstanding college and an outstanding group of entrepreneurial businesswomen. Sadly we also had to draw his attention to the situation with the children’s centres, where a month away from the radical changes parents still don’t know what is happening in their local centre. He sympathised with the parents as he knows how valuable children’s centres are to young families. He emphasized Labour’s support for children’s centres remaining a full service for every family and he was very helpful in suggesting ways forward.”

Ed arrived at Swindon College, in North Star Avenue, where he was greeted by Anne, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Swindon, and Mark Dempsey, the parliamentary candidate for North Swindon, along with Andrew Miller, Principal of Swindon College and Amanda Burnside, Executive Director Enterprise and Learner Services.

Ed, Anne and Mark spent time meeting the nursery staff and apprentices to hear about the colleges extensive apprenticeship programme and discussed the importance of vocational education to Swindon’s economy.

The three then moved to The Core, in Devizes Road, Old Town, to meet with a group of local businesswomen, all of whom have founded their own businesses in the town.
Anne said: “The Core is an excellent new business and is helping the regeneration of Old Town. We had great fun making some juices and despite being total amateurs the staff helped us create some delicious drinks.

“We went on to have an excellent discussion with local businesswomen, particularly focusing on women at work, flexible working and the issues that small and expanding business are facing in Swindon and funding for small business.”

The group of businesswomen included: Sue Pycroft from Vox PR, Vanda Tanner from the OMG Beauty Salon; Amanda Franks, of Frankly Recruitment; Clare Haines, owner of the Lingerie Outlet; Krystyna Lenik and Agnew Marceau, both owners of Syntacta and and Hadi Brooks, co-owner of Ray's Ice Cream Parlour.

Ed listened to their experiences of running businesses in Swindon, what hurdles they have overcome and what they need to see from local and national Government to support them. He also spoke about Labour’s plans for growth and jobs.

He praised Swindon’s “fabulous potential” and said: “There’s a strong sense of common purpose here that you don’t always find elsewhere.”

On equality he said: “It’s frustrating when you look at the statistics. I thought our generation had got it and wanted to back opportunity regardless of where you come from, the colour of skin or gender but when you look at the numbers it’s awful.”

He asked the women their views on what could be done to “make things better and create more opportunities” and spoke about Labour’s plans to extend free childcare for three and four-year-olds from 15 hours at the moment to 25.