18:42 Thursday 6th February 2014
BBC Look East West
[A]MELIA REYNOLDS: A group of mothers who are fighting to save their local children’s centres want their campaign to become a national one. Some SureStart centres are facing closure in Peterborough and across Cambridgeshire, as councils say budget cuts mean they need to target the most needy. It comes as the Education Minister visited the region today.
EMMA BAUGH: Angela Brennan in Peterborough with son James. She says families are turning campaigners over the threatened closures.
ANGELA BRENNAN: We’re trying to take this nationally. Bcause obviously, in the UK, there’s a massive massive baby boom going on, and they need more children’s centres, not less children’s centres. The money needs to be ring-fenced. We’ve actually started a petition, an e-petition as well, straight to the Government. And we’re hoping to get national children’s centres that are under threat to join us, to try and get this money ring-fenced.
EMMA BAUGH: Originally the children’s centres were set up in towns and cities up and down the country, in areas that were seen as most deprived. But gradually they’ve expanded, as all families have been encouraged to use them. But now some councils are saying that with pressures on budgets, they’re having to target the most vulnerable. In Cambridgeshire they plan to change from 40 centres down to 12 clusters. In Peterborough it’s planned to go from 15, to 4 superhubs and 3 outreach centres., not open to everyone. Today when the Education Minister visited, she said decisions should be taken locally.
LIZ TRUSS: Ultimately it’s the responsibility of the local council to make sure that those children get a good start in life. And what we’ve been clear about in our Government guidance is that there should be a strong network of SureStart centres that provide that support.
EMMA BAUGH: In Peterborough the Council plans to earmark £100,000 to help families if the centres do close.
SHEILA SCOTT: I don’t think it is a drop in the ocean. In Peterborough that’s a large amount of money, and as long as we use it well, as long as we continue to listen to the parents who will be most affected, we will provide the services that they hope to see in their area.
EMMA BAUGH: In Peterborough parents will find out next month if their centres are finally to close.