Parents’ anger as Sure Start centre deadline is moved

PROTEST Supporters of Sure Start in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, earlier this month
PROTEST Supporters of Sure Start in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, earlier this month
Councillor Luke Stubbs

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THE fight to save children’s centres has intensified after the deadline for parents to express their views was moved forward.

Parents were told they had until May 24 to hand in their petition to save seven Sure Start centres which could face closure by Portsmouth City Council.

But Lisa Fletcher, who has been heading the campaign, was told they now only had until Monday.

After this date, a draft will be written up by the council and discussed in an informal cabinet meeting.

Mum-of-three Lisa said: ‘We were told by the council that we had until the end of May to get our own consultation together and to hand in our petition.

‘But I have now been told this has been moved to next week. We’re running around like headless chickens trying to get everything done.

‘The council is trying to pull a fast one on us and is trying to get things moving as quickly as possible because it knows parents are getting angry.

‘It wants to minimise negative press and shove us out of the way.’

A public meeting is being held on Monday at Southsea Community Centre, St Paul’s Square, King’s Street, at 7pm and council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson will be available to answer any questions posed by parents.

Lisa added: ‘This meeting will be a good opportunity for us to sit down and discuss the centres.

‘Things have changed a little bit now the deadline has been moved but we will still be posing our questions.’

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.

Councillor Rob Wood, cabinet member for children and education, said: ‘We did the consultation on the Sure Start centres back in March and we decided to move the report deadline forward so that parents can be told exactly what’s going on and further details of the plans.

‘Nothing has been made certain yet and a draft will be made up after the report to be discussed at an informal cabinet meeting.’