Stoke-on-Trent’s S.O.C.C Campaign Challenges Newly Elected Councillors

The nationally recognised Stoke-on-Trent Save Our Children Centres campaign has begun to step up their activities ahead of the City Council’s formal Consultation exercise, which commences on 16th May.

Almost every City Councillor has been contacted by S.O.C.C leaders and urged to attend a public meeting to discuss the implications of a £2.25million reduction in funding to the much valued service.

The public meeting will take place outside the Potteries Shopping Centre on 18th May at 10.30am. Councillors and interested members of the public are being asked to gather by the clock tower.

The only councillor who has not been invited is Lee Wanger, who has a past conviction for accessing a website which contained indecent images of children which resulted in him having to sign the sex offenders register.

The email sent by S.O.C.C congratulates all newly elected councillors and asks them to consider their campaign headline “ËœEvery Child Matters’

The campaigners believe the 30% reduction in the Children Centres budget will have disastrous consequences for childcare and family support in the city. They allege that the cuts are severe and punitive.

The full email is as follows:

On behalf of the Save our Children’s Centres campaign may we congratulate you on your election to our council.

We know and appreciate the hard job you have and the tough decisions that you will have to make over the next four years. Quite soon, one of those decisions will be about our Children’s Centres. In the 16th most deprived local authority out of 356 we are amazed that, with effect from the 1st April 2011, the Local Authority has decided to reduce children’s centre funding by 30% which equates to £2.25m. This constitutes a “ËœSignificant change’ under Section 5D Childcare Act 2006, in service delivery across ALL children’s centres in the city. Because of this “ËœSignficant Change’ the law states that the Local Authority must now enter formal consultation of their decision.

The formal consultation period begins next week on the 16th May. As part of the consultation process we are meeting on Wednesday the 18th May at 10-30 am in the centre of Hanley outside the Potteries Shopping Centre by the clock tower to inform the public of this consultation process and also to carry on with our ongoing petition about these severe and punitive cuts. We would like to invite you to that meeting so that you can meet and communicate personally with the public at large about their views on these cuts.

The Save our Children’s Centres campaigners truly believe that EVERY CHILD MATTERS. Do you?

Could you please let me know if you will be able to attend?

Kind regards and best wishes,

Alan Lear,

On behalf of the Save our Children’s Centres campaign.

The S.O.C.C team are monitoring and logging all responses from the 44 City Councillors.

Their last email got a very poor response, just 26 of the 60 councillors responded and just 7 of the 26 Labour representatives.

With 34 Labour councillors elected at the recent City
Council elections, all eyes are on the ruling group in this their first real taste of opposition.

With an opposition in the chamber of just 10 councillors, the next four years could see more community campaigns come forward to challenge the ruling Labour group which will see a new era in the politics of the City.