Labour Councillors and other campaigners were left angry and disappointed after the Conservative administration on Suffolk County Council voted to close nine children’s centres despite a very vocal protest from parents outside the council offices and impassioned pleas from councillors on all sides of the political landscape inside the council chamber.
One by one Conservative cabinet members said how they would vote for closures and ignore the consultation undertaken by the council in which ¾ of all professionals who took part said the cuts would lead to a worse service.
Labour Leader Cllr Sandy Martin said; ““We could not really see any difference in the paper for this meeting to that in July. Everyone thinks this was a paper exercise just to confirm the county’s proposal.”
He added; “This is not the end of the line. The Cabinet has clearly not listened to the people they are supposed to represent, nor have they taken into account all the evidence presented to them. In particular their decision was motivated entirely by the wish to save money, as the responsible cabinet member admitted. We are determined to debate this decision again.”
Labour spokesperson for Children’s Services Cllr Bryony Rudkin said; “”The lack of any real understanding of communities and their needs amongst Conservative Cabinet members was all too apparent, with the portfolio holder claiming it took only 10 minutes to walk from Quayside on the Waterfront in Ipswich to the Reg Driver Centre up in Christchurch Park. This is patently untrue as we will demonstrate. Making sure all young children are ready for full time education is essential if our schools are to improve their performance – closing Children’s Centres will only put barriers in their way.”
The centres that will close are
Centre name Location
Brett River Hadleigh
On Track Haverhill
Reydon and Southwold Reydon
Roman Hill Lowestoft
Sea Breeze Felixstowe