Politicians lobby parents at Croft in last attempt to save children's services (From This Is Wiltshire)
Politicians lobby parents at Croft in last attempt to save children's services
A FINAL stand was made by Labour politicians over the proposed changes to the provision of children’s services ahead of Swindon Council’s Cabinet meeting yesterday.
Anne Snelgrove, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Swindon, Coun Nadine Watts (Lab, Old Town) and Coun Cindy Matthews (Lab, Lydiard & Freshbrook) were at the gates of Croft Children’s Centre in Hesketh Crescent lobbying parents yesterday morning.
The trio were making last-ditch efforts with leaflets to raise awareness as to what recommendations were on the table for the council’s Cabinet last night and what they would mean for parents using the centre.
Coun Watts said that Croft was one of four out of 14 centres across Swindon which would be closed all but in name if recommendations are carried through by the council, after a consultation process ended on August 16.
The Labour councillor said there were some parents, at this late stage, still not aware of what was being recommended by the council and how it would affect them.
She said: “There is a full programme here at Croft, which services the whole community. “Depriving parents of the professional help they currently have access to is not right.
“Those who did get involved in the consultation process were never asked how it would affect them if the centre was closed.
“The precise wording of closing the centre is nowhere in the document.”
Anne, who has concerns over how and when the council conducted its consultation process, said the authority should follow their lead and stand on school gates, telling parents exactly just what is being proposed.
There are approximately 4,000 children likely to be affected by these changes in South Swindon alone, according to Anne, who is unhappy with how few parents the council spoke with during their consultation meetings throughout the summer.
“I think the council have been dishonest throughout the process.
“They have been very keen to avoid the word ‘closure’ at any stage, when that is what will happen, in effect,” said Anne.
The key detail to the council’s plans is a split in funding for the provision of centres, with 80 per cent of funding to be directed to the most vulnerable families in the borough.
Michelle Byrne, 36, a housewife of Avenue Road and a parent using Croft, said: “I still feel very strongly things like post-natal depression and domestic violence cross class boundaries.
“There will be no provision for professional help for mothers in supposedly less vulnerable areas. How is this fair?”
Claire Nunn, 39, a full-time mother of Corby Avenue, said: “I don’t think the plans are very beneficial.
“I don’t even know where the nearest alternative centre is.
“I’ll either have to go to private classes and pay much more money or travel much further, when I don’t drive, and rely on buses and be restricted by their timetables.”
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