After a long Labour campaign, the Cheshire East Council Children & Families Scrutiny Committee meeting on 4 April at 2pm will be recorded.
The Friends of Cheshire East Sure Start Centres plan to attend the meeting on 4 April to challenge the controversial decision to de-designate 4 Children’s Centres. At the budget setting meeting in February Cheshire East Council narrowly rejected a Labour amendment and voted to cut £500,000 from the budget for Children’s Centres, with the centres at Sandbach, Nantwich, Knutsford and Broken Cross being under threat. Since that vote it has emerged that local MP Fiona Bruce wrote to the Council urging them to delay any decision until after a Parliamentary report was made public. It has also emerged that the government could claw back funding provided to set up the Children’s Centres if they are closed. None of this information was presented to Councillors before the vote in February.
Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said, “I have been asking for meetings to be recorded since 2009. There is no reason why we can’t have audio recordings of all meetings made available to the public. Council staff are easily capable of making the recordings and the cost should be very low.”
Sam Corcoran, Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, “I welcome this step towards greater openness and transparency at Cheshire East Council. I think the public should be allowed to hear answers to the questions of why Fiona Bruce’s letter on Children’s Centres was not presented at the full council meeting in February when a decision was made to cut £500,000 from the Children’s Centre budget. The public should also hear whether the risk of the government clawing back millions of pounds if Children’s Centres are closed was known when the proposal to ‘de-designate’ Children’s Centres was put forward. I understand that the Friends of Cheshire East Sure Start Centres has a list of 20 other challenges to the decision that they wish to put to Cheshire East Council.”