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New fears for future of children’s centres
LABOUR’S parliamentary candidate for South Swindon Anne Snelgrove has criticised revised plans for the future of Swindon’s children’s centres claiming they are cosmetic.
On Tuesday the results of Swindon Council’s six week consultation were released and the proposals, which are likely to be approved by council bosses on Wednesday, are to split funding for provision of the centres by a 80 to 20 per cent divide.
Most the money will be steered towards the most vulnerable families in the borough.
Formerly, centres would be granted funding based on number of people using the service.
But in April new legislation was brought in by Ofsted which ruled local councils had to reach 85 per cent of their vulnerable families to gain an outstanding grading.
Mrs Snelgrove and a number of parents has launched a petition to save the centres from the council-proposed cuts.
The authority has to make savings of around £390,000 from its 2014/15 budget.
“It’s extremely concerning that the council seems to make decisions in this off-the-hoof manner,” said Mrs Snelgrove.
“A number of children centres themselves appear not to have been contacted about the results.”
She said it was good that some progress had been made but the changes appeared to be a mainly cosmetic exercise.
She added: “I haven’t heard any other local authority having to steer the majority of their funding towards the most vulnerable. The new Ofsted legislation is something I plan to look over very keenly.
“A high number of children will still not be provided for – 80 per cent.”
Other changes to consultation include Greenmeadow Children’s Centre being merged with Butterflies with the two centres sharing staff and resources.
Wendy Cutter, 34, whose eight-month-old son James attends Drove Children’s Centre, said the revised plans were just a drop in the ocean in terms of changes which still need to be made.
“This is still not going to stop them cutting groups,” said Mrs Cutter, who is drawing up a petition to save the centres from cuts.
“They say they aren’t going to cut groups but when you are taking that much money away from the majority of families, it’s inevitable that they are going to have to cut them.
“We are still going to push forward with our campaign.”
Anyone who would like to view the revised plans should visit ww5.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov and search for the Sept 11 cabinet agenda.
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