Good article from Camden New Journal about a joint Camden UNISON/National Union of Teachers campaign to defend Camden schools and children’s services from tens of millions of pounds of cuts.
UPDATE (17/6/12): Please sign this petition against the cuts
HUNDREDS of parents, children and union chiefs have challenged Labour councillors to join their fight against the dismantling of the play service.
A “mass signing” of a petition took place outside Argyle Primary School in King’s Cross ahead of a series of rolling protests that have been called outside schools in a bid to reverse crippling cutbacks.
The Town Hall has axed two children’s centres and full-time nursery places have been halved following a £3million reduction in the play budget triggered by cuts from central government.
The play service will be cut and “parcelled-up” to voluntary sector providers. Some projects for vulnerable children still do not have a new provider.
Now a “Stand Up for Camden’s Kids” campaign has been launched by Camden Unison and Camden National Union of Teachers.
A petition, already signed by hundreds of parents and campaigners, says: “We call on Camden councillors, in particular Labour councillors, to defend children’s services against these cuts.
“We believe a mass campaign opposing these cuts, involving staff, trade unions and parents, can be built through the borough.
“We call on councillors to be part of this campaign.”
It adds: “We call on the government to return the £29million cut from the council this year and cancel the £54million cuts planned for the next two.”
Since April last year, two-thirds of the Camden play service budget has been cut. The new service, costing just £1.5million, involves the loss of 140 staff.
All council-run school and holiday play schemes have been cut – or privatised.
The youth service has been hit ahead of an expected cut in school budgets of more than 10 per cent over the next three years.
A recent council report said there would be “no significant impact to children with disabilities, as the proposed care services will continue to be provided at a similar level to current provision”.
Labour councillor Nash Ali, who is Camden’s new young people’s chief following this month’s cabinet reshuffle, said: “I’ve always worked with the unions and valued the Camden staff and I’m happy to talk to them.
“We’ve had to balance the budget in the £80million cuts. We have prioritised the service – children are the future.
“We are spending more on our front-line services than Tory boroughs. We are putting £1.5million into the play service – it was £4.5million before – when some councils are not putting anything in at all.
“But we will make sure that the most disadvantaged young people will be protected.”
He added: “We are elected representatives – we have a mandate to set the budget. It’s the national policies that are stopping us here. Our hands are tied.”