Walsall childrens centres to close – claim

Warning comes in wake of proposed budget cuts.

Labour councillors are warning that Walsall’s Children Centres are set to close, as the Conservative/Lib Dem council announced the sacking of 40 staff.

The redundancies indicate that the borough’s 18 Children’s Centres for parents and toddlers are under threat  –  despite assurances that they will remain open, the Labour Group Deputy Leader Sean Coughlan, said.

Cllr Coughlan added that the present council leadership is being dishonest about the scale of the crisis facing the borough. “What we are facing in Walsall is a crisis in every aspect of social care. Budgets for this year are already predicted to overrun by £5 million; on top of that we are looking at a further cut of £7 million in adult social care and £5 million in children’s services, both starting in April next year.

“The Conservative cabinet member for adult social care, Cllr Barbara MacCraken, admitted at last week’s full council meeting that you can’t keep making these year on year cuts without impacting on service delivery.

“We know the cabinet has taken a political decision and ordered no children’s centres are to close between now and 2015, but after that date there are no guarantees and these sackings are the first step in closure”.

Calling for greater accountability and openness on budget planning, Cllr Oliver said a Labour run council would be honest about the impact and implications of government cuts. “Unlike Wolverhampton Council, Walsall is not telling people the real consequences of the Government’s £100 million cuts in the council’s budgets over the next five years. The Conservative Leader of the council, Mike Bird, and his Lib Dem coalition partner, Ian Shires, are holding back that information until after the elections next year. This is simply dishonest.

“What we need is an ongoing consultation involving everyone from voters to council partners to decide what services should be kept, what strategies we need to protect and create jobs, and how Walsall can survive these cuts and go forward”.