Anger as County Council set to ignore results of the Children’s Centre Consultation.

SCC ‘Providing for Life’…but ‘are they?’

The results of the ten week Somerset Family Support Service and Children’s Centre Consultation has now been made public. The 47 page report produced by the independent body “Dialogue” was seen by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee in County Hall last Friday.

West Somerset Branch Secretary Kathrine See has studied the report and says “The report not only contains scepticism of the questionnaire and consultation process itself, but a huge amount of concern, mistrust and public criticism of the proposals regarding the future of Children’s Centres and services.The report clearly states that “In general people did not support the de-designation of the Children’s Centres” and “Participants overwhelmingly believed that services should continue to be delivered through Children’s Centres”.

Dialogue Report

Kathrine continued “The Dialogue report showed that there is a clear theme throughout the consultation results where respondents are critical of the decrease in services operating from the Children’s Centres over the last few years. The public also showed a strong desire for more information about what the proposed new service model would actually look like, in order to be able to make informed responses.

Labour’s Kathrine See

As yet the Council does not have any firm plans or costings for how or where any new services would operate. In the Council’s written response to the consultation result, it asks for staff and parents to help with identifying potential venues. Therefore, no potential impact on the accessibility and suitability of these venues can have been carried out. The Council’s Consultation included no specific questions regarding families with children with disabilities.

The proposed online services have also not been costed and there is no proposal for what these would be in reality.”

Labour Campaigning

Labour’s Kathrine See, who has been leading the campaign to save Children’s Centres in West Somerset, attended the Scrutiny Committee meeting and questioned Councillors as to how the outcome of the consultation would change the Councils proposals. However, the plans remain unchanged and all 16 Children’s Centres earmarked are still planned to be de-designated with many of them becoming nothing more than extra space for nurseries.

Kathrine concluded  “Back in October when I accused the Council of holding a sham consultation, the reply came back that they were in fact, gathering lots of useful information. However, here we are with the damning report in our hands and the Council intends to carry on with its original plans regardless. We now face the appalling situation where the people who felt strongly enough to get involved with the consultation process will realise that their voices have been ignored. Even more worryingly it appears that the Council does not have any actual concrete and costed plans for what would be on offer in replacement for the Children’s Centres, yet they plan to forge ahead with the decision to de-designate them”.

The Council’s Cabinet will meet on February 12th to formally adopt the proposals.

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Ralph Green
Ralph Green
6 years ago

“The child is the father of the man” to quote but clearly these councillors in the Tory controlled council either don’t care to invest in children or don’t understand that what happens to a child becomes part of his/her makeup and mindset as an adult. Suspect they suffer from both.

Mr G.L.Kirton
Mr G.L.Kirton
6 years ago

My daughter who lives in Biggin Hill regularly takes my two granddaughters (both under 5) to a council funded provision for young mothers and toddlers which I assume is that council’s provision equivalent to Somerset’s Children Centres. She is a qualified and experienced teacher and only has praise for this provision which is used by many families in her area. It has done much to support her and her daughters. Why then is Somerset Conservative run County Council closing such provision here? The answer from them will always stress the lack of funds they have available no doubt linked to their priorities and the diminishing central government grant given to them . Thats not the real reason. They lack foresight, understanding, ambition and basic sense. Give the young a good start in life and that bears fruit in all aspects such as, amongst others, health, education, citizenship and yes, guess what, productivity in a future economy. Their inability to see the real benefits longer term are contrary to what they always say they understand better than the rest of us and that’s the reality of creating wealth. If they go ahead its not just a political decision its a County Council in disgrace. Shame on them.

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