Hammersmith Tories yesterday voted to slash £3.2 million from the Sure Start budget, taking funding from nine out of 15 Sure Start early-years centres and making 50 jobs redundant at a cost of £600,000. Tens of thousands of local children and families will lose out on childcare, early education and health and family support.
Chris Underwood gives an excellent description here of a meeting in which the Tories showed themselves at their chaotic, thoughtless and brutal worst. Councillor Helen Binmore, who is responsible for Sure Start, flailed around under sharp questioning from Labour councillors. Inept rescue attempts by her leader Stephen Greenhalgh and by Councillor Mark Loveday made the audience laugh.
Some of the meeting's more grotesque moments:
- Binmore’s announcement of a “consultation” on reshaping the Sure Start service. Labour councillors forced her to admit that the £3.2 million would be cut no matter what the consultation said. This is like cutting off someone’s right hand and then consulting on all the things they can still do with the left one.
- The evident fact that the consultation was dreamt up just before the meeting – Binmore had no dates for when it would start or finish.
- The Tories’ fishy claim that no Sure Start buildings would be closed. We know that BNP Paribas Real Estate has already been appointed to assess alternative uses for the Askham Family Centre, which houses a Sure Start centre.
- The Tories' refusal to let discussion continue for more than 15 minutes before cutting it off with a panic vote that most of the audience didn’t realise was happening.
Cllr Binmore can't be allowed to get away with this shoddy behaviour.
- Why is she is holding a consultation only after the decision has been made to slash £3.2 million from the Sure Start budget?
- Has she assessed how many thousands of children will lose out?
- If no Sure Start building is going to be closed, why has the council appointed a property company to look at alternative uses for the Askham Family Centre?
If anyone wants to seek answers to these or any other questions, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.