Bill Esterson: Children's Centre budget cuts is another example

Bill Esterson

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said Sefton Council was being forced into drastic cost cutting in essential services by the Tory-Lib Dem government "hell bent on steamrolling through" community-damaging cuts.

Bill, who was vocal in his condemnation of Tory-Lib Dem plans to close Children's Centres in Sefton, said while the council's consultation exercise on the future of the centres in the borough, he is keeping up the fight to get extra government funding for the crucial services.

The MP said he spoke to families throughout the threatened closures earlier this year who relied on their local Children's Centre.

Bill said: "I applaud Sefton Council for taking the step of consulting people in the community who use the services on how they can save the £900,000 black hole in the funding created by this Tory-Lib Dem Government.

"Service users need to have input on the future of the service, particularly considering the major changes they are facing.

"I'd like to see alternative sources of funding being investigated and new ways of keeping the centres open as community facilities while also opening up for other groups to come in and use the facilities at a cost.

"This is something which my Labour colleagues in Aintree are currently working on as a way of safeguarding the future of their centre.

"But what this again comes down to is a Tory-Lib Dem government hell bent on steamrolling through cuts which are hurting our communities and which damage families.

"The true impact of the Tory-Lib Dem cuts are now being felt by ordinary families throughout Sefton and that will only get worse over the next couple of years.

"The concerned parents who contacted me earlier this year told me they rely on the services the centre provide for families with children from 0-5 with sessions on everything from health through to staying safe. It is no exaggeration to say that these centres are a lifeline. And not just a lifeline for the more deprived communities in Sefton, but all areas.

"And while the parents and grandparents are benefiting, so are the children and babies that attend, with children's centres up and down the country recording improved language skills from the youngsters that attend and a much better chance of doing well at school and later in life. School staff tell me that the children who have attended Children’s Centres do much better at school than those who have not have the same opportunities.

"Each and every area of Sefton is serviced by a children's centre of this kind and centres like Valewood and Hudson and Holy Rosary in Aintree and Freshfield have even provided provision within communities, as well as linking to other primary schools, to ensure that as many families as possible have access to their services."

Bill said he has seen for himself the excellent work provided by the Children Centres in Sefton.

Bill said: "I have now visited all of the Children's Centres in Sefton Central and seen the amazing services and facilities which they provide. The people who work there are clearly very proud of the services which they offer.

"These centres need to be saved, so I urge everyone to get involved in the consultation.

"Staff, parents and carers who rely on our Children's Centres have some excellent ideas on how to keep the centres open and to continue the great work they do at the heart of communities across Sefton. I hope that the council uses the ideas which the community has and defends these vital services against the vicious attacks of the government.

"I will be redoubling my call for funding to be provided for community facilities and arguing that our communities need provision like that provided by our fantastic Children's Centres."

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