Letter on the proposed closures of Fernbank and Hillside children's centres

Protests over the closures of Fernbank & Hillside children's centres

Protests over the closures of Fernbank & Hillside children's centres - Credit: Julia Gregory

You could fight - and not do the Tories' dirty work

Brian Debus, president, Hackney Trades Council, writes: 

The lead story about the proposed closure of Fernbank and Hillside Children’s Centres in last week’s Gazette had Mayor Glanville claiming “If we did not have to do this we wouldn’t”. He further claimed a 23 per cent vacancy rate at council-run nurseries.

He poses as if there is no alternative and uses a very flawed council report to justify closure. 

Incidentally the parents have picked apart the consultation document and described it as “not fit for purpose”. First of all, pre-Covid in 2019 for many months Fernbank was running at over 100pc capacity and had a surplus of income over expenditure. To try and use figures from the Covid period is not right, when all such settings nationally suffered a significant decline in attendance figures.

There is an alternative, and that is to fight, as both the parents and staff have decided to do, and not to meekly do the Tories’ dirty work.

Expectant mum Alexandra Fenton and Matthew Fenton protest over Fernbank and Hillside centres

Expectant mum Alexandra Fenton and Matthew Fenton protest over Fernbank and Hillside centres - Credit: Julia Gregory

Unison will be conducting an official ballot for strike action of all its members at the two centres to stop these closures and consequent job losses. We would say to Mayor Glanville and all Labour councillors use your council reserves in the interim and join us in demanding the government returns the £140 million it has stolen from Hackney in the last decade.

The Tories have funded their mates with £37 billion on a failed test and trace system. 
A few crumbs from this cake would solve Hackney’s problems.

We should draw up a people’s budget that would spell out the needs of the population of Hackney and present the bill to the government.

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All Labour councils should adopt this fighting strategy and march together on Downing Street to achieve it. Local community campaigns, trade Unions, and the wider population would be only too willing to join in if such a lead was given.

If this does not happen many will draw the conclusion that we will have to stand candidates in next year’s local elections against those parties implementing budget cuts. 

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