Committed to improving kids’ services

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I FIND myself having to respond to the front-page story in the Dispatch, which is a blatant attempt by Ashfield Labour councillors to scare and mislead the public regarding Notts County Council policies (‘Sure Fire — Break-up Of Children’s Centre Has Ruined Christmas, Say Mums’).

Let me make the position clear. This Conservative administration is absolutely committed to maintaining and improving children’s centre services in 58 communities throughout the county. There is no intention whatsoever to reduce or remove children’s centre services from Hucknall and nor will there be while we remain in control at County Hall.

In fact, we are enhancing the service to disadvantaged children in Hucknall. This involves moving staff out of the Market Place Centre at the John Godber Centre and into the Interchange Young People’s Centre and High Leys Children’s Centre, both less than a mile away.

The reason for the move is that children and parents will benefit from accommodation better matched to some of our services, while the taxpayer will save £34,000 a year in rental costs for the staff facilities at John Godber. Far from being a cut, it is actually improving our use of resources and ensuring these services continue. Parents have been consulted on this change and a very large majority were in favour.

Some groups will still continue to be run from the Market Place Centre at the John Godber Centre, and childcare delivered from there will be unaffected. The changes aim to enhance our ability to provide flexible children’s-centre services in home, health and school settings and in community venues such as Hucknall Library and the Interchange.

I would like to think that this story arose from an innocent misunderstanding, but I am not that naïve. Despite being the lead opposition party at County Hall, Labour councillors have failed to put forward any viable alternative policies or budget plans during the last year, so their only tactic is to rely on negative campaigning and scaremongering.

Hucknall’s Conservative county councillor Kevin Rostance had already reassured Labour district councillor Ian Morrison that the Market Place Children’s Centre was not closing, so Coun Morrison’s seemingly “furious” and “appalled” reaction and his references to “closure” are without justification.

The irony is that if the previous Labour regime had taken sensible resource decisions like this more often, Nottinghamshire would never have become the highest taxing shire county council in the country.

COUN PHILIP OWEN (CON),

Cabinet member for

children and young

people’s services,

Notts County Council.