Dudley MP Ian Austin has launched a petition to protect Sure Start centres in Dudley after visiting local centres on Friday.
Dudley Council has launched a consultation on plans to cut childcare services offered by Sure Start centres across the borough. As many as seven of the centres could be forced to close and seven more could have services reduced as a result of cuts to funding from central government.
He will be visiting Priory Children’s Centre at 9.30, Gornal at 11.00 and Sedgley at 12 noon.
In Dudley, Sure Start centres on the Priory estate and in Sedgley are threatened with reduced opening hours, and the centre in Gornal could be closed.
Austin is visiting all three centres on Friday to see their work firsthand and hear the concerns of staff and parents and he is calling on local people to sign a petition to protect the centres.
Nationally, government cutbacks have meant:
• there are 576 fewer Sure Start centres – with three being lost on average every week.
• there are 35,000 fewer childcare places
• the cost of nursery places has risen by 30% - five times faster than pay
• The average bill for a part time nursery place of 25 hours a week has gone up to £107.
Ian Austin MP said:
“The closure of any of these Sure Start centres would be a huge blow to local families.
“The last Labour government opened Sure Start centres to offer affordable childcare to working families. David Cameron promised Sure Starts would be safe in his hands, but he’s slashed the grants councils receive, hundreds of centres are closing and childcare costs are up by a third.
“Government funding cuts mean that Dudley Council is now faced with impossible choices to make about which centres it keeps open.
“It’s really important that local people speak up for Sure Start centres in their area, so I’m collecting their signatures to send a clear message that we want them kept open. Anyone who wants to sign the petition can do so by visiting my website at www.ianaustin.co.uk or by calling my office on 01384 342 504 to ask for a petition sheet.”