Mums take Sure Start fight to the PM’s front door

MESSAGE Children and parents at Downing Street
MESSAGE Children and parents at Downing Street
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MUMS and their children who are fighting proposals to merge Sure Start centres across Hampshire took their fight to Downing Street.

The youngsters took the initiative when they marched up to knock on David Cameron’s door to let staff know they had arrived to deliver their 22,000-signature petition.

One of them, Bryn James, four, who uses the Heath Children’s Centre in Petersfield, had written a personal letter to Mr Cameron asking him to ‘save our centres’.

He said: ‘I love my centre and I’ve made lots of friends there. I don’t want anything to change and I hope Mr Cameron reads my letter and supports us.’

Families across the county are opposing Hampshire County Council’s plans to reduce the number of centres from 83 to 51 through mergers. They fear proposals to tender large clusters of centres to single providers could result in site closures further down the line.

The Save Our Children’s Centres (SOCC) Hampshire campaign is asking the county to scrap its proposals.

But the message for Mr Cameron was that he should ring-fence the Sure Start budget to scupper Hampshire’s decision to cut £6m year from it.

Becci Frost, 24, from Locks Heath, who uses the Oak Meadow centre in Fareham, said: ‘I’m so proud we have come this far. Mr Cameron has children and I hope our petition and letters from individual families explaining how vital their local centres are will stir something in his heart.’

Kirsty Aksoy-Gell, 36, from the Stubblee Hill centre in Lee-on-the-Solent, was accompanied by her three children.

She said: ‘Today has been fantastic. I hope Mr Cameron listens to us and reinstates the ring-fence so that our council leaves the Sure Start budget alone.’ The public consultation for the proposals ended on Friday, but no decision will be made before an extraordinary meeting of the full council called by Lib Dem councillors on April 26.

When the News interviewed Hampshire’s education councillor Cllr Roy Perry last week, he said: ‘If he (Cameron) decides to ring-fence the budget it will give us a headache on where to find £6m.’