Advice and help to parents on bringing up babies and young children could be badly hit, if Kent county council goes ahead with axing a quarter of the county’s children’s centres.
The warning has come from Unite, the country’s largest union, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), which called on the council to rethink its plans.
The prediction comes as angry parents and community groups plan to demonstrate outside county hall in Maidstone on Monday 2 December between 11.30-13.30 over the authority’s proposal to axe 23 of the 97 children’s centres across Kent.
Unite professional officer Dave Munday said: “There is little doubt that the advances in child welfare and increasing awareness amongst parents of their child’s developmental needs will be badly affected if the county council goes ahead with these plans.
“Children’s centres provide a wide range of activities, clinical advice on such issues as post natal depression and educational opportunities, as well as access to professionals such as health visitors and social workers.
“They provide an opportunity for young parents, who are often isolated, to have a focus that can help them through those vital early years in a child’s development.
“We would urge the council to rethink its proposal to axe these centres – if a centre is closed it will mean parents having to travel quite long distances to access these services, which may not be possible.”
The county council is currently grappling with a £240 million deficit and has plans to change from an authority which provides services to one that commissions them from other organisations. Trade unions, including Unite, are currently locked in negotiations with the council to minimise cuts to services and staff.
Unite community co-ordinator for the south east Kelly Tomlinson said: “Unite is working with parents in mobilising opposition to these children’s centres cutbacks which are yet another example of the onslaught on local government services orchestrated by the communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles.”
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Unite Community membership brings together and gives a voice to communities.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.