Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Campaigning against the privatisation of children's centres

More than sixty parents, children, trade unionists and supporters held a protest and lobby of councillors outside Haringey Civic Centre in Wood Green last Monday night. They were protesting against the decision of Haringey Council Cabinet to privatise five council-run children's centres in the borough. The decision was nodded through by the Cabinet back in July on the basis that there had been consultation with 'stakeholders'. There had not. Parents are angry that their concerns are not being taken seriously. Liz Santry, councillor for Children & Young People's Services has refused to rule out that staff may lose their jobs or that charges may be introduced for services that are currently free. When charges were introduced for after school clubs they started off at £1; now some are as much as £18.

The protest was addressed by speakers from Unison in Haringey, Haringey NUT and the campaign group Parents Against Privatisation. The mood was positive given that the council cabinet have already back-tracked once from their original position that private companies might be approached. Now they are saying they will only consider 'voluntary organisations'. However, most parents and staff see little difference. They have also conceeded that there has been no meaningful consultation. Now they say they will hold a consultation 'if and when a decision to 'outsource' is made'. Of course as parents rightly point out, by then it will be too late.

Campaigners will meet again soon to plan a lobby of the next council meeting where this issue will be discussed.

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