Councillor Robert Atkinson, Labour’s spokesperson for Children’s Services
1.11.12 New Children’s Centre strategy will not make work pay
As expected the Cabinet of RBKC voted unanimously on Halloween to privatise its OFSTED ‘Outstanding’ Rated Childcare Services.
Labour Children’s Services spokesperson Cllr Robert Atkinson attacked the hypocrisy of the wealthy Conservative Council for claiming to consult its parents and qualified staff and then ignoring the finding that more than 94% of users and staff did not wish to ‘marketise’ the service. Cllr. Atkinson commented: ‘They may have listened but they most certainly have not heard. The Council claimed to be concerned at the plight of working parents who depend upon and value the outstanding integrated childcare service of the Royal Borough but have now decided to ignore them while citing the borough’s poverty! This from a council with £180m in Reserves which spent £23 million to repave Exhibition Road with imported pink granite and £1m on an Olympic street festival that no one went to.
‘The Cabinet claimed to value both the professionalism and high standards of its loyal staff and the frantic efforts of parents to find alternative means But in reality they plan to hand over the staff to an alternative provider who will ditch the professional staff and replace them with unskilled and cheaper childminders as soon as the “TUPE” transfer of staff commitment ends.’
The meeting was attended by 50 parents, who presented a carefully prepared proposal to develop higher means tested fees to retain an integrated easily accessed service. The Council ignored the parents’ proposals and decided instead to focus on targeted services for those they crudely identify as the most needy. Parents and staff want to maintain separate local services in eight different specialist centres while the Council intends to focus staff and expertise into two centres and risk the decline of the local services
Cllr Atkinson fumed: ‘The consultation exercise was a smokescreen to divert public attention while the Council ruthlessly got on with its plans to rid itself of loyal staff. This Council, like this government, does not understand or care about the struggles of ordinary working families to pay their bills and to stay in work. By tampering with the children’s services women will be forced out of work and onto benefits. This is bad for the families, the staff, the children and ultimately for the tax payer. The result of this short termism will be more family breakdown, lower educational achievements, less social cohesion and ultimately more crime and anti social behaviour.’