Battle for children's centre is stepped up
PUBLISHED: 08:00 26 November 2010
CAMPAIGNERS fighting to improve children's services in Weston's central ward have stepped up their bid for improvements after new figures revealed that youngsters in the area are getting less cash for services than nearby areas.
Figures revealed through a Freedom of Information request, show that every child aged four or below in South Weston is getting nearly twice as much money to help pay for support services compared to children in the centre of town.
Children in the Ashcombe area of town get 60 per cent more and even those in villages like Banwell and Winscombe are getting more cash.
Parents and Liberal Democrat campaigners Mike Bell and Clare Kingsbury-Bell, who are leading the Central Counts campaign for a fairer deal for Central Weston, say it is not acceptable.
Mrs Kingsbury-Bell said: “Central Weston is the second most deprived ward in the district and yet gets less funding for our children than many other areas.
“That cannot be right.
“Neighbouring Ashcombe has a purpose built children’s centre and more cash for services like support for mums, learning and play sessions and advice to help build strong families.
“Central Weston in contrast has to make do with a converted greengrocers and less money for every child, it is just not acceptable.”
The campaigners have now enlisted the support of children’s minister Sarah Teather MP in their bid for a fair deal. They have asked her to visit the Central Weston children’s centre to see for herself the urgent need for improvements and to support their campaign.
The centre serves hundreds of families and has been forced to turn children away because the facilities are not big enough to cope.
The Government has promised not to cut funding to children’s centres. However a survey this week of councils, including North Somerset, revealed 99 out of 152 are unable to commit to maintaining funding.
Mrs Kingsbury-Bell added: “We are looking not only for reassurances the funding will not be cut to central, but that it will be increased to bring it in line with everywhere else.
“Families are not getting access to this fantastic service where they need it the most.”