Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/695/13237
Save Coventry Sure Start
Dave Nellist, Socialist Party councillor, Coventry
Earlier this year Coventry's Labour-led council proposed to remove £1 million from the annual £1.8 million budget for day care at Sure Start centres in the city. This was to plug a financial hole in other parts of the children's budget.
The proposal caused an outcry from parents and has resulted in a petition of over 3,000 in opposition. The parents' campaign was supported by local trade unionists, socialists, and other members of Coventry Against the Cuts.
The consultation has now finished. In addition to attending the local consultation meeting in Hillfields, I submitted a response in support of the parent's campaign:
"I am fundamentally opposed to the reduction from full-time care to sessional care, and the ending of any care to the under-twos. At a time of rising unemployment, placing a further barrier in front of working parents is wrong.
I also think it is a fundamental mistake to limit services to those said to be the most disadvantaged. I believe bringing together children from mixed backgrounds and abilities would continue to be beneficial to all the children and parents attending. That, in fact, I understood to be the main ethos of Sure Start.
I do not agree that the council should withdraw from this area of provision and place its hope in the private or voluntary sector filling the gap. I believe the experience, qualifications and commitment of our own [council] staff should be recognised, valued and preserved - not cut in this way.
The resources exist to 'hold the line'. The city council currently has £11.5 million in unallocated reserves - half "to cover unforeseen financial problems" and half "to help manage further unforeseen issues". The council could allocate £0.5 million in 2011/12 from those reserves and, if necessary, £1 million in 2012/13, while engaging with the parents, staff and local communities as part of a joint campaign to pressurise the government to fully fund this essential frontline service.
That would be the inclusive approach - passing on the government's cuts without challenge will end up with the council rightly sharing the blame."
In The Socialist 23 November 2011:
Pensions' strike, N30
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