Parents, children and union chiefs fighting for play service urge Labour councillors to ‘stand up for Camden kids’

Parents, workers and children with the petition at Argyle Primary School

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

Published: 24 May, 2012

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.”

NEW JOURNAL COMMENT: ‘Untie those hands and make a stand for our children’ (click here)

One response to “Parents, children and union chiefs fighting for play service urge Labour councillors to ‘stand up for Camden kids’

  1. Pingback: Stand Up for Camdens Kids | South Hampstead Against the Cuts

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