Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tory Cuts Hit Children in Need

While the Tories nationally may speak in moderation, here in Merton it is the same old Tories hitting the most vulnerable of people. I enclose a press release from my Labour colleague Maxi Martin.

Labour Councillors have sharply criticised the minority Tory administration at Merton Council for their proposals to close the Early Years Centre for children in need at Bond Road in Mitcham.

There are 31 Merton children currently attending the Early Years Centre, all of whom have special support needs. Some are on the child protection register while others are experiencing domestic violence at home, are living with parents with drug and alcohol problems or have a disability or special educational needs.

The council expects that closing the centre will save £241,000 in the next financial year. Twelve highly trained staff will lose their jobs at the centre as a result of the closure.
The centre offers a very specific, targeted service which gives intensive support to children in need. There is a high staff-child ratio, with early years staff able to undertake integrated family support on-site. The minority Tory administration plans to accommodate children currently at Bond Road - and not yet ready for nursery school - at other local children's centres.

Cllr Maxi Martin, Labour Spokesperson for Children’s Services, said ”I am appalled that the Tories have decided to cut services to some of the most vulnerable in our society – children with special educational needs, children on the child protection register and kids living in households where domestic violence or parental drug and alcohol problems are an issue. The Tory plan to send children with these complex needs to local children’s centres, which have no specialism in the issues which Bond Rd deals with, is totally inadequate and badly thought out. This proposal does not offer an acceptable level of intensive services to children in need or to their families. I am extremely concerned that these most vulnerable children in Merton will be less safe if these proposals to close the Bond Rd Early Years Center are carried out.”


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