THE COMMENTS of Alice Grice regarding Notts County Council children’s centres in ‘Have Your Say’ on Friday July 6 (‘When Has Privatisation Of Public Services Worked?’) are incorrect.
We are not ‘privatising’ these centres. We are engaging partners to operate them and there will be no charge for provision and therefore no ‘two-tier system’.
Children’s centres in Hucknall are in fact already provided through a commissioning arrangement with County Health Partnerships.
At a time when personal and public finances are stretched, this saves the county taxpayer money on management costs.
It is a partnership where service-users get the full benefit of a specialist healthcare provider operating the centre while the council retains responsibility to assess and ensure the quality of care. The current re-commissioning process will extend this provision.
Notts County Council is in the process of saving more than £150 million across its whole operation, reducing bureaucracy and making more efficient use of resources.
Up to £70 million of the money saved is being reinvested to improve the services identified by Nottinghamshire residents as the most important to them. Children’s centres are one of the top priorities and we are completely committed to maintaining and improving all 58 of our bases.
Market Place Children’s Centre in Hucknall (John Godber Centre, Ogle Street) has not closed and will not close. We have reviewed the services we deliver from it to ensure that they are delivered in locations and at times that best meet the needs of local families.
All this has been done with the agreement of the majority of families that use the centre. We run a very comprehensive programme of family support activities at Market Place, including specific provision for toddlers.
Contrary to Ms Grice’s claims, the council’s success in saving an extra £34 million this year means we can channel more money more quickly into the services that most need it.
There is indeed “an election campaign coming up” and our political opponents are, understandably, doing whatever they can to distract the public from our achievements and their previous failings.
After three years of Conservative control, county council tax remains frozen at 2009 levels and frontline services and venues for vulnerable young and older people have improved across Nottinghamshire.
COUN LYNN SYKES (Con),
Chairman of Early Years and Young People’s Committee,
Notts County Council.