Liberal Democrats have called on cabinet member, Cllr Lorna Reith, to abandon Haringey Labour’s plan to drastically scale back provision of vital Children’s Centres. At a special ‘watchdog’ committee this week she faced overwhelming resistance to her proposals.
On Wednesday (8th June 2011) the Overview and Scrutiny Committee rejected Labour’s proposals and sent the issue back to the cabinet member for reconsideration by next Thursday.
Heads of local schools and children’s centres united to oppose plans which would withdraw funding from children’s centres at Rokelsey, North Bank, Highgate and Tower Gardens, after the Liberal Democrats successfully referred the issue to the committee.
Cllr Rachel Allison highlighted the effects of the removal of vital preventative services, the need to have universal access to children’s centres across the borough and need to listen to the concerns raised, including those from Labour backbenchers and Labour MP David Lammy who are against the plans.
Cllr Katherine Reece, Liberal Democrat Children’s spokesperson, comments:
“It’s time that Cllr Reith stopped rowing against the tidal wave of criticism that overwhelmingly shows that her plans will damage our local children’s welfare, upbringing and safety. The tide has turned and Cllr Reith should change her policy immediately to ensure we have a better system in place by September.”
Cllr Rachel Allison, who presented the Liberal Democrat call-in, added:
“It is clear that the schools and children’s centre managers – those who know how to run their services better than anyone – should have control over how the reduced money for their services is spent. Withdrawing services at North Bank, Highgate and Rokesley when they could be kept going with only small amounts of investment will be disastrous. I hope that we now see a change in direction.”
Cllr David Winskill, Liberal Democrat Deputy Chair of Overview and Scrutiny adds:
“The presentations and contributions form school heads, governors, parents and others were well reasoned and involved no extra funding. It is clear that Cllr Reith, as long ago as 2008, had the opportunity to engage with these groups to find a sustainable funding regime. I hope she will listen to what Scrutiny said and go and fully engage with the Children’s Centre Alliance on a more appropriate and locally delivered model of service.”
Gosh, how vociferous the local Lib-Dems are when it comes to complaining about cutbacks. What are the chances of them taking their fight to the top – ie their very own Lib Dem colleagues in central Government?