Children’s centres saved until 2017

Share Button
Protest against children's centre closures in Liverpool this month. Pic by JMU Journalism

Protest against children’s centre closures in Liverpool this month. Pic by JMU Journalism

All ten of Liverpool’s children’s centres which were threatened with closure have been saved for the next two years.

Around 200 anxious parents descended on St George’s Hall yesterday afternoon to hear Mayor Joe Anderson make the announcement.

Ten out of the 17 SureStart children’s centres were at risk of facing the chop due to government budget cuts, but have now been saved for at least the next two years.

However, the Save Liverpool Children’s Centres action group has announced that it will still go ahead with a protest rally will still take place this Saturday at the Pier Head as the battle goes on to keep the centres going beyond 2017.

Anderson said five other publicly-funded organisations, including the NHS and housing associations, have given a combined £1.5m to help secure the city’s SureStart programme. He also confirmed that all 157 jobs will be secure until 2017.

Recent protests by Liverpool families (see video below) highlighted the issue but Mayor Anderson was pleased to reveal that a temporary funding fix has been arranged.

He said at the St George’s Hall meeting: “We have been burning the midnight oil to come up with a solution to this. We have been able to negotiate savings and have agreed a deal with five partners that will bring in £1.5m.

“We have also set aside an amount of money, around £2.2m, from council reserves to save the children’s centres. All this gives us a respite opportunity of two years to look at a framework for how to make the children’s centres sustainable.”

Parents and workers gathered outside St George's Hall. © JMU Journalism

Parents and workers gathered outside St George’s Hall on Wednesday. © JMU Journalism

SureStart centres provide pre-school education, child care for children under-five and play a vital role in supporting parents. Parents and workers at the centres gathered outside St George’s Hall as they anxiously awaited the announcement.

Kim Garwaite, from Fountain’s Children Centre, which was one the centres facing the axe, told JMU Journalism beforehand: “We feel very angry and very worried on behalf of our young parents and children. This is a city where there is an average of 33% of children living in poverty, in some areas its 54%.

“If the proposed plans do come in to place, children won’t be safe, the level of services will be watered down. We work some of the most vulnerable children and families in the city – if that work goes out of the window then heaven help Liverpool’s future.”

Liverpool council revealed the plans to scrap the centres last month in the wake of the £156m cuts that had been handed down by George Osborne.

Despite yesterday’s announcement, there remained a general concern amongst the crowd that the centres would find themselves in the same position in two years’ times.

Carla Loverage, a mum who uses a number of the centres all over the city, told JMU Journalism: “I can see that Mayor Anderson’s funding has been cut but he need to keep us informed and work with us. He should show his face at each of the centres and see what work they do because in two years’ time we could potentially be in the same position.”

If the closures were implemented centres in Anfield, Childwall, Woolton, Dingle Lane, Fazakerley and Croxteth, Fountains and Vauxhall, Garston, Church and Mossley Hill, Kensington, Stoneycroft, Tuebrook and West Derby, Wavertree and Yew Tree would have been axed.

Video report by Daniel Wilson & Hannah Perselli, JMU Journalism TV

About Amy Nicholson, JMU Journalism