Green councillor speaks out over consultation to close children's centres

Councillor Alex Phillips
Councillor Alex Phillips

Green city councillor Alex Phillips has spoken out against plans to close children’s centres in the city.

Green city councillor Alex Phillips has spoken out against the Labour-run council’s plans to close at least five children’s centres in response to government cuts.

Councillor Tom Bewick

Councillor Tom Bewick

The plans, expected to be revealed today (Friday), identify centres including Cornerstone and City View as likely to be cut.

Cllr Phillips said: “This has to be the most short-sighted cut being proposed by the Labour council so far. It will cost far more in the long run if these vital services are cut and families in desperate need of support are turned away.

“We recognise that the council faces extremely challenging financial times because of the Conservative national government’s devastating austerity programme, but this requires a wider, strategic response to address the issue. The proposals here are based on meeting the needs of the most deprived areas in the city.

“Labour are planning to consult on these issues, but have already taken certain options off the table. In my view that is not a genuine consultation, and misses an opportunity to work with local residents to identify creative opportunities to keep all our children’s centres open. The proposals show an administration struggling to cope - there’s no plan here.”

Labour councillor Tom Bewick, lead member for children young people and skills, said: “I want to stress that these are proposals we are genuinely consulting on. Our focus will always be on protecting the most vulnerable. We will be listening very carefully to the community and how it believes we can address the local budget cuts which are solely of the Conservative government’s making.

“The children’s centres were reprieved last year, but it was only made possible because of the Green Party’s failed referendum bid to hike council tax on all residents, and residents know the huge challenges we are facing now.”