24 February 2011

Children bear the brunt as H&F Tories vote to slash more than government demands

"It's not easy having people dislike you" said an uneasy Cllr Nicholas Botterill yesterday evening, as the H&F Conservatives voted to take away £14.8 million - or one pound in every seven - from local services.

Cllr Botterill's plea for sympathy was somewhat undermined by the fact that the ideological Tories were brutally slashing nearly £4m more than required by the national cuts (increasing to 15% the 11.3% that Eric Pickles had already sliced from H&F's government grant).

Children - our future - are bearing the brunt, with funding for child protection, Sure Start and children in care heavily reduced on top of the £206 million already taken from H&F's schools building programme. See details here.

Sure Start early learning services have been decimated. Their b
uildings may be remaining open for now, but under a new "hub and spoke" scheme, funding for ten out of sixteen centres has been drastically reduced by almost 95 per cent to only £19,000.

Cuts cheerleader Peter Graham
During the meeting, except for the occasional outburst - which included applauding themselves once they had voted the budget through - most of the Tories stayed nervously quiet. A notable exception was Councillor Peter Graham, parliamentary researcher to Fulham MP Greg Hands, who grinned and cheered as the cuts were announced, and jeered at the opposition, which included an angry group of local parents, children and disabled people in the chamber. 

Update (25 February)
We note that Ruthie Walsh of the campaign to save Wendell Park's Children's Centre has blogged (see here): "I was horrified that Cllr Peter Graham felt happy enough at the cuts to Sure Start that he was actually smiling when Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh first mentioned them. Since when has taking facilities away from children been funny? Since when has having a child cry at the thought of losing their Children's Centre garden, and the vegetables they have planted... been funny?! It's funny to have children crying?". 

Greg Hands MP, who employs Cllr Graham, must be very proud of his protégé.

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