Last week brought the revelation that Somerset County Council had already held a “Soft Marketing” event back in September and has a current advertisement on their procurement website asking for expressions of interest, from private providers, in running the 0-19 years services.
Leader of the County Council David Fothergill accused Labour of playing party politics and was reported as saying that there wasn’t a shred of evidence. However, on Monday West Somerset Labour’s secretary Kathrine See had a meeting in Parliament with the Shadow Minister for Early Years, Tracy Brabin, where a document was handed over proving that Virgin Care and several other private providers had attended the Council’s procurement event.
Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen, stated that “It was a pleasure to meet with Kathrine to discuss the potential closure of Children’s Centres in West Somerset. It is of very serious concern to me that an area 324th on the social mobility index could lose these vital centres that support social mobility. Further, it appears that the local authority has questions to answer regarding contracts being advertised while the consultation is still ongoing. I will be keeping my eye on developments closely in the coming weeks”.
West Somerset Labours Kathrine See said that “It was fantastic to meet Tracy again. She is a warm and caring woman who genuinely cares about Early Years Provision and wants the best for our children. The campaign to save our Sure Start Centres is ongoing. This isn’t going to go away, and neither are we”.