Parents show support for ‘lifeline’ children’s centre

PARENTS have staged a peaceful protest to show support for a children’s centre they call their lifeline.

Friday, 18th March 2011, 7:58 am

Mums and dads stood outside the Gomersal and Littletown SureStart Centre in a bid to show Kirklees Council how important it is to them.

The council is looking at ways to make savings of £82m in the wake of government funding cuts - and people who use the centre, in Shirley Avenue, Gomersal, are worried about the impact of any cuts or changes.

Anna Gall, of Oxford Road, takes her son Josh to the centre three times a week.

She said: “I can’t drive so if this centre wasn’t here I wouldn’t be able to get Josh out half as much as I do. I wouldn’t have anything to do - there are no playgroups within walking distance.

“This centre is a lifeline. I’ve made friends here and Josh has too.”

Nichola Jones said: “I have three children under four and I was new to the area. I developed epilepsy so I had no car and my family lives two hours away. I was very much alone and if it wasn’t for this centre I wouldn’t have coped.

“There is a new housing development round the corner - all young families who don’t know each other. This centre brings us all together.”

Nichola said she was unable to work because childcare would cost her £1,200 a month for all three children.

She added: “The centre offers courses which keep me focused and keep my skills up to date.”

Spen MP Mike Wood, who was at the demonstration, said Kirklees Council had been left in a bad position following the cuts - but the centre was too important to parents to be cut.

He said: “Whilst I understand the council’s difficulties I am fully supportive of SureStart.

“I think it’s one of the best things that’s happened in the past 10 years for children and their parents. Every one of them tells you the value it has to them.

“We ought not to let it be ruined by short sighted cuts.”

Last week Kirklees Council said most areas within the authority were being reviewed although no decisions on closure of children’s centres had been made.