Public Speaking Time/Open Session
In accordance with Procedure Rules Nos.11 and 35 a period of 10 minutes is allocated for members of the public to address the meeting on any matter relevant to the work of the body in question. Individual members of the public may speak for up to 5 minutes but the Chairman or person presiding will decide how the period of time allocated for public speaking will be apportioned where there are a number of speakers. Members of the public are not required to give notice to use this facility. However, as a matter of courtesy, a period of 24 hours’ notice is encouraged.
Members of the public wishing to ask a question at the meeting should provide at least three clear working days’ notice in writing and should include the question with that notice. This will enable an informed answer to be given.
Ms Maeve Kelly, Friend of Cheshire East Children's Sure Start Centres, used public speaking time to ask the following question:-
At the February 25th Budget vote meeting I raised my concerns with changes to the children's centre provision increasing mental health issues. I would like to follow up on that point. Mental health issues are now some of the biggest killers of perinatal women in the UK (perinatal referring to the time before and after birth up to 5 years). A quarter of perinatal deaths are due to mental health issues with 1 in 10 being the result of suicide.
In recent weeks Cheshire East have said that the changes to the children centre structure of de-designating 4 children's centres in favour of a mobile service is due to reducing footfall and reaching rural families who cannot currently access the current situation. In a 2013 report from the Children's Society where they discuss the barriers of geography and low footfall, in their numerous recommendations, nowhere do they recommend a mobile service:
I would ask Cheshire East to confirm what research they have used to make the recommendation that footfall and geographical barriers will indeed be improved by the upcoming change to a mobile service? I would also ask that Cheshire East make available statistics over the last 5 years of both footfall and geographic location of families accessing children's centres (ie. urban, town, rural, etc.)? I would therefore ask for a commitment that if these numbers do not improve (and indeed continue to worsen) over an appropriate period that Cheshire East will un-de-designate the 4 centres?
In relation to mental health specifically, Tommy's the UK charity which researches pregnancy provided a report which examines perinatal mental health. In this 2013 report they outlined that 1 in 7 women experience perinatal mental health problems, half of which say the main cause is isolation.
The Friends of Cheshire East Children's Sure Start Centres believe that the movement from central locations within towns to a mobile service will increase feelings of isolation by expectant and/or new mothers. I would ask for Cheshire East to provide me with details as to what underpins their assumptions that perinatal mental health will not be negatively impacted by the change to a mobile service? I would also ask that Cheshire East make available statistics over the last 5 years of all the relevant areas of perinatal mental health (suicides, postpartum psychosis, chronic serious mental illness, severe depressive illness, mild-moderate depressive illness and anxiety states, post-traumatic stress disorder, and adjustment disorders/distress). I would again therefore ask for a commitment that if these numbers do not improve (and indeed worsen) over an appropriate period that Cheshire East will un-de-designate the 4 centres?
The Chairman of the Board, Cllr Rachel Bailey, briefly responded to the points raised in the question and undertook to provide a written response.
Cllr Liz Durham,Children and Families Holder Portfolio Holder responded as follows:-
The areas served by the four de-designated Children’s Centres ... view the full minutes text for item 63