Mums march to halt the centre closures

This Is Wiltshire: The protest at Jurys Inn over the children’s centres closures. Front, from left, Mark Dempsey, Wendy Cutter, Ann Snelgrove and Coun Derique Montaut The protest at Jurys Inn over the children’s centres closures. Front, from left, Mark Dempsey, Wendy Cutter, Ann Snelgrove and Coun Derique Montaut

A HUGE crowd of concerned parents protested against Swindon Council’s proposals to close seven of the town’s 12 children’s centres.

Yesterday’s action followed the council’s announcement last week that it is reviewing the services with the aim of saving £770,000 as it tries to make £48m in budget cuts over the next three years.

A consultation on the closures is planned to run from July 29 to October 3.

The plans will be discussed during the council’s cabinet meeting at the Civic Offices at 6pm tonight.

During the protest, the group of 50 people waved banners and flags as they walked from the Jurys Inn Hotel to the council-run Whalebridge car park.

They met at the £15m multi-storey car park, which opened last year, because the group claimed the investment was a waste of money.

“The turnout today following very short notice has been very good,” said Wendy Cutter, 35, of Walcot, who attends Drove Children’s Centre with her one-year-old son James.

“We need to bring a stop to these proposed cuts and I hope we’ve shown the council that we are not going away.

“I’d like as many people as possible to get behind us and help save your local centres as everyone knows a child who benefits from them.”

When they got to the car park, which had more than 1,000 free spaces over its six levels, the protesters chanted “save our centres.”

Abbie Bell, 35, who attends Robert Le Kyng centre with her six-month-old son Jacob, hopes the council will acknowledge the group’s concerns.

Abbie, who lives in Rodburne, said: “If Robert Le Kyng and the one in west Swindon goes I’ll have to go to the one in Penhill.

“I don’t have a car and would have to get two buses, so it is unlikely I’d go, as that’s a long journey with a young child.

“The service is vital to the community and the staff at Robert Le Kyng have been great to me as my son had to undergo open heart surgery when he was just three months old and they’ve helped us with his recovery.”

Anne Snelgrove, Labour’s South Swindon Parliamentary candidate, is working with the families with their campaign.

She said: “My plea to the council is that they think again as this is not about politics but children’s futures.”

Coun Fionuala Foley (Con, Chiseldon and Lawn), cabinet member for children’s services, says that due to budget constraints difficult decisions will have to be made.

“Doing nothing about it is not an option,” she said.

“There are some areas where parents will have to travel further and for that I am sorry. But while it may be inconvenient they will still have access to a centre.”

Coun Mark Dempsey (Lab, Walcot and Park North), who is the North Swindon Parliamentary candidate, said: “I think today’s protest shows the strength of feeling against these plans.”

Comments (8)

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10:54am Wed 23 Jul 14

trolley dolley says...

It is OK for Mark Dempsey to protest about the plans, that is something all politicians do from time to time. It is all just posturing.

What he must also do is tell everyone where he would get the £800,000 from to keep all of them open. No doubt there is money available but it would need to come out of all of our pockets to keep the Labour Party happy.

I would like to suggest that he concentrates on his own political ambitions, there is not a lot of time before May 2014.
It is OK for Mark Dempsey to protest about the plans, that is something all politicians do from time to time. It is all just posturing. What he must also do is tell everyone where he would get the £800,000 from to keep all of them open. No doubt there is money available but it would need to come out of all of our pockets to keep the Labour Party happy. I would like to suggest that he concentrates on his own political ambitions, there is not a lot of time before May 2014. trolley dolley
  • Score: 17

12:01pm Wed 23 Jul 14

EmmBee says...

Agreed - Mark Dempsey is a councillor, who's been voted into that position by constituents and should represent them.

Who on EARTH does Anne Snelgrove represent, apart from Anne Snelgrove?
Agreed - Mark Dempsey is a councillor, who's been voted into that position by constituents and should represent them. Who on EARTH does Anne Snelgrove represent, apart from Anne Snelgrove? EmmBee
  • Score: 15

12:28pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Sandor Clegane says...

EmmBee wrote:
Agreed - Mark Dempsey is a councillor, who's been voted into that position by constituents and should represent them.

Who on EARTH does Anne Snelgrove represent, apart from Anne Snelgrove?
She represents all that is so dreadfully wrong about the Labour party and career politicians in general.

Remember, this individual relished being Parliamentary Private Secretary to Gordon Brown. How anyone could even remotely consider voting for her does not bear thinking about.
[quote][p][bold]EmmBee[/bold] wrote: Agreed - Mark Dempsey is a councillor, who's been voted into that position by constituents and should represent them. Who on EARTH does Anne Snelgrove represent, apart from Anne Snelgrove?[/p][/quote]She represents all that is so dreadfully wrong about the Labour party and career politicians in general. Remember, this individual relished being Parliamentary Private Secretary to Gordon Brown. How anyone could even remotely consider voting for her does not bear thinking about. Sandor Clegane
  • Score: 16

12:54pm Wed 23 Jul 14

South Stand says...

General Election just ten months away now.................
............and what happens? Ann Snelgrove wakes up again. If she's not out and about supporting strikers, she's on protests about austerity cuts..........but have we heard from her about how she would fund the £800,000? No, because the Labour party's policies are now following Conservative policies.
General Election just ten months away now................. ............and what happens? Ann Snelgrove wakes up again. If she's not out and about supporting strikers, she's on protests about austerity cuts..........but have we heard from her about how she would fund the £800,000? No, because the Labour party's policies are now following Conservative policies. South Stand
  • Score: 15

1:24pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Ollie Dognacky says...

....and most of the comments are you 😜............ Score - 462👎
....and most of the comments are you 😜............ Score - 462👎 Ollie Dognacky
  • Score: 2

2:32pm Wed 23 Jul 14

The Real Librarian says...

QUOTE
Coun Mark Dempsey (Lab, Walcot and Park North), who is the North Swindon Parliamentary candidate, said: “I think today’s protest shows the strength of feeling against these plans.
UNQUOTE

Yes it does. Not very much

Since when is 50 people a huge crowd?
BTW what happened to the other thirty one when the photographer turned up?
QUOTE Coun Mark Dempsey (Lab, Walcot and Park North), who is the North Swindon Parliamentary candidate, said: “I think today’s protest shows the strength of feeling against these plans. UNQUOTE Yes it does. Not very much Since when is 50 people a huge crowd? BTW what happened to the other thirty one when the photographer turned up? The Real Librarian
  • Score: 10

5:14pm Wed 23 Jul 14

beach1e says...

These centres can stay open..if the people that use them pay for them..seems fair enough...the hard working person that pays their taxes and council tax hasnt got anymore money to give for those that choose not to work.The cupboard is bare and for those that are in genuine need, there will always be charitable money available,but there are far too many abusing the system......complain to all those that choose to not pay tax, choose to not work, choose to use services they are not in dire need of.
These centres can stay open..if the people that use them pay for them..seems fair enough...the hard working person that pays their taxes and council tax hasnt got anymore money to give for those that choose not to work.The cupboard is bare and for those that are in genuine need, there will always be charitable money available,but there are far too many abusing the system......complain to all those that choose to not pay tax, choose to not work, choose to use services they are not in dire need of. beach1e
  • Score: 1

11:10pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Samswindon says...

All these comments seem to be missing the point of the march, children centres are set up to educate families, to help people out of benefits , provide support for new parents and help children to socialise with others. Studies have shown that early intervention in a child's life enables them to become a more productive adult. I pay taxes and I live in an area where the children centre will be closed, I also face the problem that there may not be a school place for my 2 year old in 2 years time. I support this march, because I believe everyone has the right to family support and education.
All these comments seem to be missing the point of the march, children centres are set up to educate families, to help people out of benefits , provide support for new parents and help children to socialise with others. Studies have shown that early intervention in a child's life enables them to become a more productive adult. I pay taxes and I live in an area where the children centre will be closed, I also face the problem that there may not be a school place for my 2 year old in 2 years time. I support this march, because I believe everyone has the right to family support and education. Samswindon
  • Score: 2

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