A total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to make a statement(s) on any matter that falls within the remit of the Committee.
Individual members of the public may speak for up to 5 minutes, but the Chairman will decide how the period of time allocated for public speaking will be apportioned, where there are a number of speakers.
Note: In order for officers to undertake any background research, it would be helpful if members of the public contacted the Scrutiny officer listed at the foot of the agenda, at least one working day before the meeting to provide brief details of the matter to be covered.
Natasha Maroni referred to attempts she had made to secure a residential place for her daughter. At the present time, she had been offered 1 day placements outside of the Borough, which she considered to be unsatisfactory
Carol Jones referred to Article 3 of UNICEF (Best interests of the child):which stated that ‘the best interests of children must be the primary concern in
making decisions that may affect them’ and linked the article to the recent Cabinet decision regarding safe walking routes to school.
Sue Helliwell sought clarification about the costs involved in the Council’s February 2016 decision to de-designate four children’s centres. In particular, enquired as to how many vehicles would be acquired; how many support staff that would entail; how much equipment; and whether provision would be made within the vehicles for private and confidential discussions. She also sought assurances about the future of outreach services in Alsager.
Ted Wall expressed his disapproval of the Council’s decision to de-designate four children’s centres and the fact that the Council had ignored advice contained in a letter from Fiona Bruce MP to the Council about delaying a decision until the publication of a report on children’s centres by an all party parliamentary committee.
Susan Munroe referred to poor mental health of perinatal women which was often associated with isolation. She contended that a mobile children’s centre service would increase isolation. Permanent buildings provided safe places for mothers and children to gather together.
Maeve Kelly referred to a statement made at the February 2016 Cabinet meeting by a Cabinet member which had suggested that the provision of children’s centres was discretionary. However, Maeve contended that local authorities had a duty to provide children’s centres. The original concept of children’s centres was to provide facilities open to everybody, thereby removing any stigma.
Sally Handley referred to conflicting positions of the Leader of the Council and Health and Wellbeing Board in respect of footfall and usage of children’s centres
Ethel Ranson suggested that the Council had opened itself up to potential lawsuits having not followed its own policies on consultation in respect of the decision to de-designate four children centres
Paula Eaton informed the committee that she had three children and had been a regular user of the Sandbach sure start centre. She outlined the timeline of the decision making process explaining that the consultation period had ended on 12 February, report was then produced on 22 February 2016 and a final decision taken on 28 February 2016. She therefore questioned the process and the disregarding of the letter from Fiona Bruce MP.
Michael Unett stated that in view of the significant number of new houses being built in the borough recently, many of the people who would be expected to purchase these houses would probably not be local the borough and could therefore have benefitted if permanent children’s centres had been in place.
Susan Munroe, Maeve Kelly, Sally Handley, Ethel Ranson Paula Eaton Michael Unett each requested that the decision regarding children centre be reconsidered by Council.
In response to the many points made about the de-designation of Children’s Centres, the Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director People informed the committee that she expected that nationally there would be a move towards a more targetted model of provision in line with the Council’s position. She also contended that the introduction of mobile facilities would provide a wider range of options than existed presently, in that there would be permanent buildings and targetted mobile services in the future.