Email to parents reveals Lib Dems and Tories are to close Sefton

Bill Esterson with Brenda Gruber and her grandson Jack


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson says the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are betraying the people of Sefton after Lib Dem leader Tony Robertson admitted in an email to parents that he would be voting to close many of the borough's Children's Centres.

Both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives vowed to protect the much used centres during the General Election campaign.

But now in government, the Tories and Lib Dems are strangling funding which is used to keep the centres running.

This week however, the Sefton Council leader and leader of the Liberal Democrats in Sefton admitted in emails to concerned parents, that there will "not be enough money in 2011/12 to run the Phase 2 and 3 Children's Centres".

The Liberal Democrat leader and Molyneux ward councillor has Holy Rosary Children's Centre in his own ward. He is also leader of Maghull Town Council which includes Hudson Children's Centre in Maghull. He admits to parents that he is giving up on any attempt to try to save the centres because of the massive cuts imposed on Sefton Council by his own Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government.

Cllr Robertson writes: "The honest answer to concerns is that finding the huge amount of money needed to keep the Phase 2 and 3 open is virtually impossible.

"The Council has to set a legal budget that balances by March of this year and to do that it is estimated that it needs to reduce spending by £17m on top of the £26m savings already made. Please beware of anyone offering to save the Centres as the only way that can be done is by extra millions of Pounds being found from outside of the Council i.e. from Government.

"Unfortunately Phase 2 and 3 Children's Centres are closing across the UK."

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said he was disgusted that the Liberal Democrats on Sefton Council had clearly given up on trying to save the Children's Centres.

Bill said: "Not only have the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats betrayed the electorate who they assured during last year's election campaign that they would both protect Children's Centres, but they are now going further and not making any attempt within Sefton to try to save the centres from their own government's cuts.

"This is a betrayal of the parents, carers, grandparents and ordinary families who rely on the services these centres provide.

"I have visited most of the Children's Centres within my own constituency of Sefton Central and spoken directly to the families who rely on the services they provide.

"I refuse to give up on them and lie back as the Liberal Democrats are clearly doing while these centres are shut down."

Bill said everything must be done to protect the Children's Centres and their services.

Bill said: "It is absolutely outrageous that the leader of the Liberal Democrats is now resigned to the closure of the Children's Centres which is all due to the unfair and heartless cuts being imposed by his own party and their Conservative partners in government.

"But I am not resigned to their closure. I will be working with the parents, families and carers, as well as the centre managers and staff to explore all the options to save the centres from closure.

"I am currently consulting with my Labour colleagues on Sefton Council who are opposing these closures, to look at exactly how much money is required to keep them open. We need to look at all options to secure funding.

"These centres are vital to the communities here in Sefton and are the only facilities for families from all walks of life. Children develop much better where they and their families are able to use children's centres and the support to parents and carers is often an essential lifeline to families who would otherwise be cut off from any help or support either from professionals or from other families with who face similar challenges.

"Schools tell me that children who attend Children's Centres do far better as they are used to mixing with other children and are able to learn and to develop with far less support from teachers.

"The long term impact of the closure of the centres will be far greater than the cost of keeping them open as it takes far more time and money trying to help children and families where the children don't have support in their first five years. Children's Centres are an investment in our young people and in the future of our communities as they reduce the costs of social failure in later life as well as helping families with young children.

"I, unlike the Liberal Democrat leader, refuse to give up on the centres or on the children, the parents and families who rely on them."

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