Brent councillor co-launches campaign to save children’s centres across the UK

Cllr Michael Pavey with Ed Balls MP, shaddow chancellor and Sharon Hodgon MP, shaddow children's min

Cllr Michael Pavey with Ed Balls MP, shaddow chancellor and Sharon Hodgon MP, shaddow children's minister at the launch last night. - Credit: Archant

Cllr Michael Pavey teamed up with Sharon Hodgson MP to start crusade

Vital children’s centres facing cuts from central government have been given backing thanks to a national campaign co-launched by a councillor in Wembley.

The launch of Labour Friends of Sure Start (FOSS), at Westminster yesterday aims to protect Sure Start Children’s Centres across the country.

Previously the Times reported that the pre-school centres, of which there are 15 in Brent, were facing cuts of up to 41 per cent after central government lined up a £400m axe from the pot, the equivalent to a £1.5m shortfall in the borough.

Cllr Michael Pavey, a Labour councillor for the Barnhill ward and chair of the locality board which covers centres in Preston Park and Wembley helped set-up the campaign alongside Labour MP Sharon Hodgson MP who is the shadow children’s minister.

Speaking after the launch Cllr Pavey explained the importance of keeping the centres running.

He told the Times: “Sure Start changes young lives forever. It is shameful that the government is slashing its funding.

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“We want to empower families and communities to fight back and save these precious centres.”

It is estimated around 400 of the centres, which provide a pre-school and also give health, employment and parenting advice to families in deprived areas have closed since 2010.

Brent Council has made a commitment to keep all their centres open until at least 2014.

FOSS will now aim to empower local campaign groups fighting to save their centres and also develop new ideas on how to improve and continue the services they offer.

But a spokesman for the Department for Education (DfE) denied hundreds of centres had closed claiming the number was just 25.

However, Cllr Pavey added that numerous centres had amalgamated into one and not been replaced yet had to operate on the same funding.

Sharon Hodgson, shadow children’s minister and MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said the campaign will protect Sure Start’s as a “national asset”.

She said: “Parents in Brent are lucky that they have a Labour council who have prioritised these crucial services and programmes, which ultimately save everyone money in the long run.

However, with more cuts on the way from central government, it’s important that parents and professionals across the country join forces to campaign to protect Sure Start.”

The DfE spokesman added: “We will give poorer two-year-olds 15 hours of free childcare every week and are giving councils more money to support children and families.”