Unite activists will be joining the burgeoning protests tomorrow (Friday 13 May) at the threat to Hampshire’s children centres that could affect thousands of parents and children in the county.
The Tory-controlled county council, which is considering reducing the current 54 children’s centres to just 11 regional centres, will be lobbied in Winchester by a demonstration that gathers at the Pig statue at 09.00 and then marches to King Alfred’s statue.
Unite said that 60 per cent of the children’s services professional workforce of about 300 (264 full-time equivalents) faced the axe, while the council had £500 million stashed away in reserves.
The council says that it is in financial difficulties because of chancellor George Osborne’s sustained swingeing cutbacks to local government funding, but Unite, the country’s largest union, seriously questions why the cuts have to be targeted on children, who, in some cases, are living in very vulnerable circumstances.
Unite regional officer Ian Woodland said: “Countries are judged by how they care for their elderly and their children. The fact that dozens of children centres face the axe will have a big negative impact on thousands of children and their parents throughout Hampshire.
“More than half the workforce could be culled while the council sits on a cash mountain of £500 million in reserves. You have ‘reserves’ for a financial rainy day – that day has now arrived and some of those reserves should now be spent to preserve the much valued children’s centres and their highly-qualified staff.
“We call on the public to join tomorrow’s demonstration in Winchester in their droves to send a very clear message to the councillors: ‘Hands off our children’s centres’.”
When Oxfordshire county council outlined plans to carry out similar cutbacks, David Cameron, Witney’s MP, queried the council about the cuts his own ministers were making – and also ran into hot water with his mother and aunt who were both opposed to the axe coming down on children’s services.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.