Lucy Reese writes in the Guardian on the campaign to save Camden Sq.
The playcentre at Camden Square has been part of our local community for over 30 years and has provided generations of children with somewhere safe and fun to play. It is a lifeline for working parents, providing holiday and after school care and also offers a wonderful service for children with special needs.
The playcentre is purpose built and is a great place for children to play. The staff are amazing and are like an extended family for parents and kids alike. We think it would be a tragedy if this much loved centre were to close - it currently faces closure in Sept 2012 as a result of budget cuts.
We have started an action group to keep the centre open and now want YOUR support.
Please sign our petition.
Watch a video of our deputation -
Our deputation starts at 00:41:20 (you may need to install the Microsoft Silverlight plugin to watch the video).
Last night, hundreds of people gathered to march to Camden Town Hall, ahead of the councillors’ vote on the budget. A deputation organised by Save Camden Child Care were inside the council chamber. Here’s what we had to say.
I’m here to present a set of petitions, signed by many hundreds of Camden residents.
Our petitions call on the council to reconsider it’s plans for dramatic cuts to the funding of play and early years services.
We fully understand that the council faces unprecedented cuts to its funding, and that services across the board will be affected. We also recognise that statutory obligations mean that cuts may need to be concentrated more in some areas than in others. However, in proposing a 65% cut to play service funding, the council clearly indicates a lack of understanding of the importance of these services to the community. The impact of cutting them will be devastating, particularly to low-income families and single mothers who will struggle to remain in work.
The council argues that a universal play service is no longer affordable, and states that future provision will be focussed on vulnerable families. This argument is flawed. You cannot help vulnerable children if your means of helping them segregates them from the rest of the community.
Last month, five members of our campaign met with Anne Baxter, Anne Turner, and Councillor Heather Johnson to make the case for play services based on the concept of universal provision. While there were no promises of more money, we were given a commitment that the council would continue to fund a universal service including childcare for working parents. In public the council continues to state otherwise, so I ask the Councillor to restate this commitment.
We also need transparency with regard to how children’s centres and play-centres are assessed for closure. We know that the council plans to address its capital shortfall by selling off commercial properties. We need a statement about how any centres up for closure figure in these plans?
Play and early years services are vitally important to ordinary families, and to the community as a whole. We’ve been told that Camden has a higher level of provision than other councils. This is an indication of our priorities, not a license to cut. 19% of Camden’s children are living in poverty, according to newly published research by Save the Children.
The depth of feeling and concern over the level of these cuts is reflected again and again in comments made by Camden residents signing our petition. We urge you to read these comments and hear what they have to say.
You can watch the proceedings on Camden’s website. Our deputation starts at 41mins 20secs.
19% of Camden's children are living in poverty -
New research from Save the Children
Front page of today’s Camden New Journal
Watch a video of the cabinet meeting -
The deputations start at 00:08:12
Hundreds turn out for Town Hall protest.
TONIGHT! Playdate with the Cabinet, Camden Town Hall, 6-7PM -
Join us for a celebration of play in honour of the Children’s Deputation to the Cabinet. We need to show the council how many people care about the cuts to children’s services. There will be activities for children run by play workers in a safe, fun party atmosphere (why not bring cake!). Children: please bring a drawing of yourself playing at your playcentre. We will be gathering at the Town Hall, Judd Street at 6.00PM, with processions from both Plot 10 in Somers Town and Coram Fields.