Camden parents are left stunned by plans for latest of dramatic cuts

Published: July 28, 2011
by TOM FOOT

THE play service for Camden children is set to be dramatically scaled back.

Parents and union chiefs have warned that the decision, made by councillors in a meeting last Wednesday, could contravene the Children’s Act 2006.

It will come into effect on September 1 and critics say it could mean working parents are forced to give up their jobs.

Deputations – arguments against the cuts from union leaders, parents and staff to the Town Hall Executive – won roars of approval from children sitting in the public gallery.

The council wants to stop running an affordable local authority play service in response to huge cuts imposed by central government.

“We are in shock over the proposals,” said Winchester Project play centre worker Kim Mabbutt.

“We have major concerns about how the council will secure its duty of care under the Children’s Act. We expect more from our council.”

Affordable childcare must be available to all parents under the Act.

Camden Unison branch chairman Barry Walden said the “disproportionate cut” would hit “working parents” and lead to the “loss of qualified and experienced staff”.

One parent, Zoe, said she was “devastated” by the cuts that could close Plot 10 in Somers Town, one of the borough’s oldest playgroups.

Labour cabinet member Councillor Larraine Revah said: “Obviously, with the cuts we have been given it’s very, very difficult and we have to make very, very difficult decisions. We are aware of the responsibilities under the Children’s Care Act.”

She said details of the new arrangements would be released on December 7.

The cabinet agreed to stop its “directly provided play service” and “protect” a budget of £1.5million to commission a vastly reduced service.