Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Three Sure Start Children’s Centres in Thanet will have their hours cut to part-time under the latest round of cuts from Kent County Council.

The decision to downgrade centres in Birchington, Callis Grange and Garlinge was announced on Wednesday morning by Jenny Whittle, Cabinet Member for Specialist Children's Services.

In Thanet the decision was met with dismay by local Labour councillors.

“Despite a vigorous campaign by parents, grandparents, carers and Labour Councillors, KCC has not reconsidered its decision to make Callis Grange a part-time centre” said Jenny Matterface, Councillor for Beacon Road.

“It will impact on parents without transport who will find it difficult to access other centres for vital services. It will add more strain on cash strapped families who have to pay for public transport to other centres and it will give children less time at the centre.It will make it increasingly difficult for families who have benefited from the Children’s Centres to continue to attend. 

“I wonder what we can expect next year by way of cuts to this essential part of our community?”

Councillor Iris Johnston, who campaigned for the creation of Sure Starts in Thanet in 2005, was dismayed at the news.

“Labour Councillors at TDC and myself as Cabinet Member for Community Development made it very clear at a KCC 'consultants' briefing that we would not tolerate any loss of services to our families or indeed job losses for the many excellent staff. I’m glad that our pressure has meant that not a single centre has closed in Thanet, but we are disappointed by the downgrading of the services to part-time.

“Those of us who have spent years supporting the need for “under- five’s” provision worry that this is the beginning of KCC working towards even more serious changes.”

South Thanet Labour Party’s candidate for the 2015 General Election, Councillor Will Scobie, also campaigned against the closures.

“Sure Starts work, the evidence is there. The benefits are clearly shown in the parents who have gained qualifications, gained employment and gone on to further education.

“These cuts will affect families that need support to meet their potential, so we won’t give up the fight for local people. The Labour government created Sure Starts in 2005 and we are committed to helping families by giving every child in primary school free breakfast and after school clubs from 8am to 6pm, and extending free nursery places for 3-4 year olds from 15 to 25 hours per week.

“David Cameron promised before he was elected that Sure Starts were safe. Since 2010 he has closed 590 centres around the country and has cut the funding and hours for many more. It’s clear which party is in support of families and children, and which will only put big businesses first.”

Would you like more details or to speak to the people involved in this story:

Will Scobie
PPC for South Thanet
07792 416 865

Councillor Iris Johnston
07709 958 564

Councillor Jenny Matterface

07785 966 666

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