The Save Our Worcestershire Children's Centres (SOCC) campaign is open to everyone concerned by the closure of these services. It has gained massive support from all concerned and the opposition to these funding cuts is growing."
Please add your voice to the campaign to oppose these cuts in essential services for our children in Worcestershire. You can speak for them.
Get involved by joining this Facebook group: Save Our Children's Centres or you can email Jill for more information.
Sure Start Children's Centres are a support programme for all families with children under 5 years-old. Their aim is to provide outcomes for all young children so that they are happy, healthy and ready for school.
Centre staff are fully trained to deal with individual needs a child might have and work with a wide range of agencies to support families in any area of need.
Children's Centres are based on a well-founded principle – that early intervention is critical to ensure that children have an equal start in life. Services and support are available for parents, grandparents and carers.
Tory councillors of Worcestershire County Council have voted to reduce the funding to Children's Centres by £1.5 million pounds. Services will suffer severe reductions across the 32 centres in the county.
It is anticipated some services, e.g. speech therapy, will be concentrated in particular areas. This will create a "postcode lottery", the complete opposite of the values underpinning children's centres. Jobs will be lost and highly trained staff will be largely replaced by volunteers. Important as volunteers are in many areas of life, this is one area where skilled, professional staff are vital.
Children's Centres in Worcestershire County Council are rated as outstanding, yet Tory councillors are fully prepared to dismantle this crucial support network. Coupled with the savage cuts to the Health Visitor Service, this represents a significant, and ultimately dangerous, erosion of services for our youngest children.
Tory councillors say it is regrettable that they have taken these decisions. They will tell you that savings have to be made and hard decisions have to be taken. I cannot help but ask myself just how it was hard for these same councillors to spend £102,000 on a new microphone system for the council chamber. It seems to me that it is fine to have "toys for the boys, (and girls)" at County Hall, but not for the children of Stourport and the rest of Worcestershire.
Tory councillors need to examine their priorities. Maybe the example of Chile could help them. In a country roughly three times poorer than the UK, free child-care and nursery school placements are available to all children from three months-old to school entrance age.
It is absolutely true that you get what you vote for; vote Tory and you will be voting for more of the same savage cuts to services we all need. Don't vote? Well, don't complain when the Tories strip away your services.
I believe that the only credible alternative is for the electorate of Stourport to reject Tory councillors and their priorities in favour of councillors who uphold and understand the need for skilled, professional and locally accountable public services. County council elections will take place next May (2017), so you will have the chance to have your say.