Bath and North East Somerset Council’s ruling Liberal Democrat Cabinet has voted to push ahead with plans to cut the authority’s budget for Children’s Centres and Early Years support by up to £2.3 million.
Conservative councillors have said the decision by the Liberal Democrats is ‘deeply disappointing’ and a described it as a ‘missed opportunity’ to demonstrate that the Council was listening to the concerns of local parents worried about the planned cutbacks.
At a meeting of the authority’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet last Wednesday, 13th November, the Cabinet agreed to note the recommendations of the Council’s Early Years, Children and Youth scrutiny panel, but to press ahead with plans which could see the Children’s Centres budget cut by up to 38%.
The meeting heard from a number of local parents who attended to speak against the planned budget cuts and pleaded with the Cabinet to find alternative savings.
Conservative shadow spokesman for Children’s Services, Cllr Michael Evans, also spoke at the meeting arguing that the scale of cuts proposed by the Council would prove damaging to Children’s Centre services.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Evans commented:
“Families from across B&NES are clearly deeply concerned at the level of cuts currently proposed to Children’s Centres by the Council. The Liberal Democrats missed a real opportunity at this meeting to show that the Council is listening and trying to address these concerns.
“Conservative councillors secured a number of concessions in the recommendations of the Council’s Early Years scrutiny panel, including asking the Cabinet to rethink the scale of budget cuts. So it’s deeply disappointing that the Liberal Democrats failed to respond to this. At £2.3 million, equivalent to 38% of the total budget, the scale of these cuts go way beyond those imposed by central government.
“There are clearly some sensible savings which can be made from restructuring the service, including more partnership working with voluntary organisations, as well as health services and schools. But cutting back to just three ‘hub’ centres and slashing the budget by 38% will leave many communities with severely reduced services and must be reconsidered.”