B&NES Children’s Centres

December 4, 2014

Over the last few months Bath and North East Somerset Labour activists have been spreading a lot of negative stories about the future of B&NES Children’s Centres and I would like to set the record straight. The future of Children Centres is not uncertain! All 11 centres are to stay open and will continue to offer services to those families that need them. It is highly irresponsible of the Labour group to scaremonger the public over the future of Children Centres. Labour councillor Liz Hardman was part of the working group looking into the future for Children Centres; so she knows that the opening hours of the individual centres will reflect the targeted activities that happen in each centre and that there are no proposals to cut targeted work.

But services should not be duplicated. Children Centres should respond to national changes in the provision of services. From May 2015 there will be an increased health visitor service, a universal service offered to all mothers and babies, from birth.  There will be checks at more key stages in a baby’s life plus health visitors are now trained to spot earlier mental health issues in the mother, such as post natal depression and attachment concerns.

I fundamentally disagree with Labour’s dismissal of filling some gaps with volunteers. Volunteers are a valuable resource in many centres, and in other places such as church halls. They run a variety of groups such as baby and toddler play groups and the council will continue to support and co-ordinate volunteers for Children Centres. I am myself a volunteer for a mother and baby group and like all volunteers I am happy to give my time without being paid, while having ample qualifications to fulfil my volunteering role.

Do I have to remind Labour councillors and activists  that the need for looking at all public services to make them more cost effective is a direct result of the massive deficit that has been accumulated under the previous Labour government which went on an irresponsible spending spree for years. The way in which Labour councillors in this authority are persistently demanding that more money should be spent rather that responding to sensible ways of reducing costs to ensure that services can still be provided in the future just shows that Labour has not learnt a single lesson.



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