Children's Centre campaigners and local Labour councillors joined Ipswich Labour Parliamentary Candidate, David Ellesmere to deliver petitions containing thousands of signatures calling on the Conservative administration on Suffolk County Council to halt the planned closure of Children's Centres.
Parents and campaigners from across Suffolk have been gathering signatures on a number of petitions calling on their local children’s centres to remain open. These were handed to Councillor Gordon Jones who is in charge of the programme of children’s centre closures.
Tory cabinet member responsible for children's centres, Gordon Jones, was unable to provide any answer as to how or why the nine centres identified for closure had been chosen.
Local mum and Children’s Centre campaigner Shelly Darwin said: “Today it felt like he [Cllr Jones] was going through the motions, he says he is listening and that our feelings will be taken in to account, but I really feel his mind is made up. He had no response to the question of the selection process for centres. When challenged on his comment that the closures are not about finances he had no real answer”.
She added; “When I pointed out that the centres having everything in one place was key to their success, his response was that he had visited the centre and it was empty. This is inappropriate to say the least, given he went when there was no session in progress. He should be quoting numbers attending each session not the fact that he popped in and there was no one there. Every session I attend is at or close to capacity”.
Labour Councillor Mandy Gaylard said: “When handing over the petition several petitioners tried to make Cllr Jones understand the issues families will face when Children’s Centres are closed, but it seems to me that this administration only sees and hears what it wants to. We were told this consultation is not a foregone conclusion. I really hope this is true”.
Ipswich Labour Parliamentary Candidate and Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, David Ellesmere said: “More people have signed petitions against the closure of Children’s Centres than have responded to the council’s official consultation. The number of signatures received shows the depth of feeling amongst the people of Ipswich and across Suffolk. The Conservatives on the county council need to listen to those concerns.”