January 16, 2014
Contact: Harlow Labour
(01279) 625870

Essex County Council recommends closure of Harlow Children’s Centres

Essex County Council recommends closure of Harlow Children’s Centres

A report due to go to the Cabinet of Essex County Council recommends the closure of two children’s centre in Harlow.  Both the ABC Children’s Centre in Old Harlow, and Sunflowers Children’s Centre at Sumners Leisure Centre in Broadly Road, would be closed if approved by the Tory administration next week. In total, 10 children centres across Essex are set to close.

Essex County Council last year held a consultation on the future of the two centres, which was criticised heavily by Harlow Labour who ran a campaign to save them both. Harlow Labour argues the closures are disproportionately high in Harlow compared to the rest of the County. Last year, Harlow District Council led a scrutiny review into Education Attainment in the town which identified an issue of school-readiness in Harlow. Evidence showed that 32% children in Harlow are not at the level they should be by the time they reach primary school, yet the Tory-lead administration as enforcing 20% the closures in Harlow.

Councillor Karen Clempner (Labour), County Councillor for Harlow West said:

Educational attainment and giving children the best start in life in Harlow has to be a key focus. Closing Children’s centres is going to put back children’s readiness for primary school, as well as reducing child care options for working parents. 
While the cuts imposed on Essex County Council by the Conservative led government mean that key services will be affected, targeting these cuts on children and young people, and in areas of most need like Harlow, is the wrong decision.
I will be doing everything I can to make sure that these recommendations are reconsidered, and that Harlow’s children are not unfairly targeted for cuts”.

Suzy Stride, Labour Parliamentary Candidate, launched a petition to save the children’s centre which has over 500 signatures.

Suzy Stride said,

The children’s centres in Harlow provide vital services to families in Harlow, and play a crucial role in bringing the community together. I urge the Tory Cabinet to vote against these recommendations. 

Soaring childcare costs are a drag on our economy and lock parents who want to get back to work out of the jobs market. Labour would introduce a primary childcare guarantee to help parents manage before-and-after school care and extend free childcare provision for three and four year olds with working parents from 15 to 25 hours.

Harlow is being unfairly hit hardest by the Tory county council cuts. By voting for these recommendations they are sending a clear message that the Tories are out of touch, and Harlow is not their priority.”

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