Portsmouth City Councillors agree to Sure Start cuts

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PARENTS have lost their battle to stop cuts being made to children centres in Portsmouth.

The council’s cabinet agreed to axe 21 jobs at Sure Start facilities.

DISAPPOINTED Campaigners Nikki Coles, Grant Woodman, Dave Murphy, Jamie Fletcher, Ian Woodland, Gillian Fletcher and Lisa Fletcher. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (131500-335)

DISAPPOINTED Campaigners Nikki Coles, Grant Woodman, Dave Murphy, Jamie Fletcher, Ian Woodland, Gillian Fletcher and Lisa Fletcher. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (131500-335)

The move was made because the council wanted to save £1.02m from its budget and free up money to spend on providing more free nursery places for vulnerable two-year-olds.

All 16 Sure Start centres will remain open, but with reduced opening hours.

Nine teams will each be responsible for several centres.

Angry parent Lisa Fletcher, 37, of Landport, Portsmouth, said: ‘It’s devastating and heartbreaking. I feel sorry for our families and our Sure Start staff.’

Conservative group leader Donna Jones said the council should consider working with agencies which would help Sure Start centres.

She revealed Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt had met with Parent Infant Partnership – which is considering contributing £300,000 towards children’s services.

It would free up money in the budget to spend on hiring more staff and protecting existing ones which visit families in their homes.