Official: over 11,000 Hammersmith kids to lose early years support
Hammersmith Tory councillors confirmed their decision to cut £3.4m from Sure Start early years services at a council meeting yesterday evening. They ignored a petition from 2,000 residents and pleas from impassioned parents for an Andrew Lansley-style "pause for reflection".
Under close questioning from Labour opposition leader Steve Cowan, top council official Andrew Christie revealed that the much-reduced service would help only 2,000 of the 13,100 children it currently supports. That's a cut in numbers of 11,100 or nearly 85%!
Mr Cowan also asked Cllr Helen Binmore, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, who argued strongly for the cuts, to justify her claim that early years services would get "better". She couldn't.
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Labour Councillor PJ Murphy asked Cllr Binmore whether she would resign if services got worse and a centre closed. She said she didn't expect this to happen.
Sure Start centres give Hammersmith & Fulham children the chance to make friends and learn as they play. They help parents get professional advice on health and family matters, learn about training and jobs or just socialise with other people.
For more than one in six local children and their families, the council has shut the door on these opportunities.