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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 January 2012

Kirklees parents say 'save our children's centres!'

Mike Forster

Towards the end of last year, the Labour-led Kirklees council in Yorkshire announced a consultation over the future of 32 Sure Start centres.

The council proposes mothballing 17 of these centres, in effect halving essential childcare provision in Kirklees, once again hiding behind the government's cuts.

Refusing to even stand up to the Con-Dem government's agenda, the Labour councillors have merely decided to pass on these cuts.

But parents are resisting. At the start of January, a Saturday morning meeting of 35 parents launched a campaign and a 12-strong committee is now meeting every week to coordinate opposition.

Signatures

They have collected thousands of signatures, made three MPs support their campaign, organised two further public meetings, organised another bigger lobby of the council and called a local demo on 3 March.

Every centre is being visited by the committee to gather more signatures and identify more parent reps to coordinate the fightback.

The parents are supported by the local Unison branch which has donated 1,000 to the local group and offered practical support.

Parents are now lobbying every councillor demanding that they stop the phoney consultation exercise and look instead at measures to keep every centre open.

Local councillors are being bombarded with emails and invitations to visit the centres they intend to mothball.

Mayor apologises

The Kirklees mayor has been forced to apologise for the "ignorant and unprofessional" conduct of a councillor.

Four parents had separately addressed the full council, but one councillor, Shabir Pandor, fell asleep during their impassioned submission.

Additionally, the Labour leader of the council was alleged to have been arranging to meet a friend on his Blackberry!

Parents are considering standing candidates in May's local elections against councillors who refuse to support the campaign.

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In The Socialist 25 January 2012:


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