Created: Thursday, 09 October 2014 10:44
Written by Newcastle Branch
In Newcastle FRFI supporters have played a central role in building the Parents Against Cuts campaign to challenge council plans to cut Sure Start children’s services by 65%. Sure Start was set up by a Labour government as part of an attempt to shift the responsibility for problems caused by poverty onto the behaviour of parents. But regardless of Labour’s intentions, Sure Start has become a valued resource in many working class communities, offering a range of free activities that parents and other carers can take children along to. The proposed cuts come on top of other cuts in recent years to play and youth services, libraries, swimming pools and leisure centres. Following cuts to the play service last year, some centres are only being kept open through Sure Start, and these could now face closure or privatisation.
The campaign has included a ‘play in their way’ demonstration on 7 August, with ‘messy play’ and water activities for toddlers taking over the centre of Newcastle’s busiest shopping street, in protest at the council prioritising investments for businesses in the city centre over services in working-class communities. This was followed by a ‘messy march’ on 17 September, timed to coincide with a meeting as part of the council’s planned ‘consultation’, which many parents using Sure Start have not even been told about. On the morning of the march the council announced it had cancelled the consultation – apparently the council are only interested in ‘consulting’ as long as nobody actually comes forward with an opinion! The campaign will be supporting a protest organised by Unison outside a full meeting of the council on 1 October, and raising a challenge with the Ombudsman over the sham consultation.
No cuts to Sure Start! No cuts at all!
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 241 October/November 2014