Mums won’t give up fight to save Portsmouth’s Sure Start centres

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A BIGGER protest to save Portsmouth’s Sure Start centres will be taking place this Saturday.

Mum-of-three Lisa Fletcher has planned for a second protest to take place in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, to show support for the Sure Start centres which are facing cuts and closure.

As previously reported in The News, Portsmouth City Council has revealed proposals to merge Sure Start centres in an attempt to save about £1m during 2013/14.

The plans include merging 16 centres to bring the total in the city down to nine.

But Lisa and fellow parents are still fighting against this decision and are determined to see some sort of negotiation between themselves and the council.

She said: ‘We want the council and the councillors to recognise that our community is extremely upset with them and the decision to make the cuts.

‘We want them to listen to us and come to some agreement about how much they need to cut.

‘The centres do so much for our community and it is an amazing service that we love to use.’

The protest will be a peaceful one but Lisa doesn’t want people to think they lack passion.

She said: ‘I am hoping about 200 people will turn up for the protest and we are asking parents to bring drums and whistles for their children.

‘That way, it can be a fun day out for them.

‘If this doesn’t work then we will carry on and find new ways to show our support and dedication to the Sure Start centres.

‘I will take this to Parliament and 10 Downing Street if that’s what it takes to keep them open.’

Lisa is currently collecting signatures for a petition and in the last three weeks, she has got over 600 signatures for it.

She will also be attending a public meeting on April 29 with council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

Councillor Rob Wood, cabinet member for children and education, said: ‘We have to concentrate on services, not buildings, and the families who will benefit most from support.

‘We believe in children’s centres and know they’re important, but services have to be good value for money.’

The protest will take place outside Debenhams at 1pm on Saturday.