West Somerset’s four Labour candidates for the forthcoming County Council elections next May have written an open letter to the press alerting people to the real affects of the proposed cutbacks.
The letter reads;
“Our county councilors will vote next week on a programme of savage spending cuts which threaten the well-being of children in West Somerset. Reductions in services for children in need of support are a disturbing feature of the budget that will go before the full council meeting next Wednesday (Feb 20th)
Perhaps the most shocking proposal will reduce the effectiveness of Children’s Centres in Alcombe, Watchet, Williton, Dulverton and elsewhere. Help in the pre-school years is the best way to improve a child’s chances in Life. Yet £1,400,000 is being cut from the budget, bringing a reduction in the number of teachers and family support workers. The County Council’s own report admits that this will bring “reductions in early help…. also a reduction in the quality of early learning.”
More than a million pounds will be cut from a budget that provides help to raise children’s achievement. Council officers admit this “could result in young people not pursuing appropriate further education or training…. with associated risks of increased anti-social behavior.”
Other cuts, to the Attendance Service and transport for excluded pupils, could result in vulnerable children not getting to school at all. And the report to councilors says a planned cut in the educational psychology service will mean a “reduced capacity to support schools in meeting the needs of children with severe and complex special educational needs.”
These cuts have been brought about not just by the squeeze on funds applied by the coalition government. The incompetence and narrow ideology of Conservatives at County Hall is also to blame. They have hired consultants at vast expense to draw up politically driven plans for organisational change which have not worked. What we have now are chaotic and incoherent cuts which will target the young and vulnerable.”
Andy Lewis, Labour County Council candidate, Dunster
Lesley Culverhouse, Labour candidate, Minehead
Alan Bond, Labour candidate, Watchet and Stogursey
Councillor Maureen Smith, Labour candidate, Dulverton and Exmoor.
West Somerset Labour Party
1, Elm Grove, Alcombe, Minehead TA24 6AA