Green Councillors on the Children, Young People and Skills Committee joined forces with over 600 parents from Brighton Children’s Centres Campaign yesterday to condemn massive cuts to children’s centres in the city.
Despite Labour’s initial proposals being revised to keep certain centres open a few hours a week as “delivery points”, there are still plans to cut “stay and play groups” by half and significantly reduce the number of baby groups and advanced “Triple P” parenting courses, which have been evidenced to reduce the number of families where abuse/neglect occurs by 10% .
The cuts were agreed despite a public plea from parents and centre-users to reconsider the move, which would likely result in families and children being turned away from services. According to a deputation from hundreds of parents involved in the Brighton Children’s Centres Campaign, proposals “will lead to a tremendous strain on the remaining groups, in terms of staff, resources and space” causing children to be “left behind”. Green councillors Alex Phillips and Amanda Knight voted against the move.
Leila Erin-Jenkins, parent and co-founder of the Brighton Children’s Centres Campaign, said:
“We are disappointed that a consultation proposing a 35% cut to children’s centre services has been approved by the CYPS committee. However, we are confident the members of our campaign will use this opportunity to make clear their views on these devastating cuts to children’s centres. We urge residents of Brighton and Hove, parents, carers and anyone else who understands how important these services are, to fill in this consultation, to join our facebook group and to sign the petition we will shortly be releasing on our page. Finally, we hope the council listens to the opposition to these cuts which will undoubtedly be the result of this consultation”.
Green Councillor Alex Phillips has campaigned against these proposals from the start, calling them “the most short-sighted cut being proposed by the Labour council so far”. Councillor Phillips said:
“The revised plans are still extremely damaging for children and families, and will only serve to drive up costs in the long-run. We already know this from the consultation last year which convinced Councillors to save the centres.
“These proposals will see much-reduced services and staff, and the remaining children’s centres will be unable to cope with the demand. They will most affect families who cannot afford to travel and who are least able to advocate for themselves. Once again Labour seems to be going after the poorest, rather than considering how to spread the burden of cuts more fairly.
“I appreciate the funding constraints the council is now operating under, but it doesn’t change the fact that preventative services save money in the long run. At a time when child protection costs are rising dramatically, we must do everything we can to intervene early or the entire system could collapse. Failing to invest in early years will only hurt Council finances in the long-run”.