Rally over planned clo­sures of 35 chil­dren’s cen­tres

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

CAM­PAIGN­ERS protest­ing against the pro­posed clo­sure of 35 chil­dren’s cen­tres across Bucks will rally to­gether out­side County Hall, Ayles­bury on Mon­day on the same day the de­ci­sion will be sent to Cab­i­net.

Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil has pro­posed to in­tro­duce a new early help ser­vice, which could see 35 vi­tal chil­dren’s cen­tres across Bucks axed and re­placed with nine hubs.

Cam­paign­ers are con­cerned clos­ing the cen­tres is just a cost-sav­ing ex­er­cise which will ad­versely af­fect both par­ents and their chil­dren.

Save Buck­ing­hamshire’s Chil­dren’s Cen­tres Cam­paign­ers have been call­ing for the cen­tres to re­main open and for more money to be in­vested into them, so they can reach more par­ents and fam­i­lies as op­posed to mak­ing un­nec­es­sary cuts of over £3 mil­lion.

Wy­combe District Coun­cil­lor, An­drea Baughan said: “The cen­tres across the county do in­cred­i­bly valu­able work with fam­i­lies; of­fer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for par­ents and chil­dren to learn, play, make friends and ac­quire new skills.

“Those who work in the cen­tres are skilled and of­fer sup­port, in­for­ma­tion and one to one work for par­ents fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties with lan­guages, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, first aid cour­ses, breast­feed­ing sup­port and ad­vice.

“They also give ad­vice on hous­ing and fi­nances, help­ing par­ents who may be suf­fer­ing with post natal de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety and pro­vid­ing par­ent­ing skills.

“The cen­tres are vi­tal for our com­mu­ni­ties and I would not like to see them closed down.”

The re­cent Bucks County Coun­cil con­sul­ta­tion re­ceived more than 2,000 re­sponses.

A pe­ti­tion re­quest­ing all 35 cen­tres stay open has re­ceived 2,344 sig­na­tures. This pe­ti­tion was sent to Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil be­fore the con­sul­ta­tion ended but it re­mains open and is con­tin­u­ing to at­tract more sig­na­tures ev­ery day

Cam­paigner and chil­dren’s cen­tre user Alka Dass, said: “My 22 month old son and I have hugely ben­e­fit­ted from the chil­dren’s cen­tres.

“I have ben­e­fited from par­ent­ing cour­ses, sup­port with healthy minds and my son has also re­ceived help with his speech. He has grown in con­fi­dence, met and learnt to in­ter­act with other chil­dren – this has all re­ally helped his de­vel­op­ment. I would have been very lost with­out the cen­tres and the sup­port they pro­vide and I also have made friends with moth­ers there.

“For a lot of fam­i­lies, these are not just chil­dren’s cen­tres but the place com­mu­ni­ties of new fam­i­lies are cre­ated.

“We have all come to­gether with one pur­pose and that is to keep the chil­dren’s cen­tres open.

“We need to think about the fu­ture of our chil­dren – please come along and sup­port us to stop the clo­sure of the cen­tres.”

Mon­day’s protest is open to any­one who would like to show their sup­port from users of the cen­tres: fam­i­lies, par­ents, grand­par­ents, lo­cal res­i­dents or any­one who wants to keep the cen- tre’s open.

It will be a fam­i­lyfriendly protest so chil­dren are wel­come too.

In ad­di­tion, fur­ther sup­port has been pro­vided by Wy­combe Labour, who are gladly pro­vid­ing lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port for the cross party ‘Save Buck­ing­hamshire’s Chil­dren’s Cen­tres’ Cam­paign.

Buses are be­ing or­gan­ised to take pro­tes­tors to Ayles­bury as well as lift shares to en­cour­age more peo­ple to at­tend.

Khalil Ahmed, Chair­man of Wy­combe Labour Party, said: “The clo­sures are a false econ­omy – our only real in­vest­ment in the fu­ture is our chil­dren.

“If happy, con­fi­dent and cre­ative young­sters aren’t avail­able to run the fu­ture econ­omy, then all our mon­e­tary sav­ings will be to no avail.

“This is not a party po­lit­i­cal is­sue. We’ve been out on the streets talk­ing to peo­ple with re­gards to clo­sures close to where they live and there are many Con­ser­va­tive, Lib­eral Democrats, Green and UKIP sup­port­ers, as well as Labour vot­ers and non-vot­ers who are all equally an­gry about these pro­posed cuts and clo­sures. If enough of us make enough noise we can stop these clo­sures and show the rest of the coun­try that in Buck­ing­hamshire we still care about the next gen­er­a­tion.”

All are in­vited to make a stand by protest­ing out­side County Hall, Ayles­bury on Mon­day Novem­ber 13 from 10am-1pm.

Full de­tails and fur­ther in­for­ma­tion will soon be on FB Group – save­buck­ing­hamshireschil­dren­scen­tres.

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