Poplar father wants fellow parents to oppose council Sure Start cuts

A young Poplar father is calling on fellow parents to oppose council cuts to Sure Start centres which he is worried will affect his one-year-old daughter’s development.

Tower Hamlets council plans to take �3m from the budget for its 23 centres which help children up to the age of five with skills such as basic numeracy and literacy.

It says “savings will be made from management structures with little impact on frontline provisions.”

James O’Riordan, 28, is worried that the opening hours at the Chrisp Street centre, where he takes his daughter Sarah-Duru, could be cut and that similar reductions could be repeated across the borough.

He said his daughter who also attends the Bow Road centre for a total of five days a week will be lucky if she can go twice a week.

He said: “They do really amazing things for children’s development and my daughter’s already doing things that two-year-olds should be doing.

“I think they’re making a really big mistake if they decide to cut this. A lot of the mums and dads are really angry about this.”

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He has been moved to circulate a petition calling on the council to reconsider its saving target which he says was signed by 100 people on its first day last Thursday.

The council will now receive its funding for children’s centres through an Early Intervention Grant – reportedly �1.4bn less nationally than funding provided through the Sure Start grant.

Their cabinet paper outlining the changes predicts a staffing reduction of 12 per cent.

Mr O’Riordan and his wife Duygu, 30, are already looking for other options for their daughter.

He said: “I’ve looked around but everything is done through SureStart.

“It’s essential that kids learn the basics.”

At the Chrisp Street centre, children can attend both morning and afternoon sessions, normally with one of their parents also present and James said there are between 15 and 25 children present.

He said: “The classes are completely full.”

A study by families charity 4Children and the Daycare Trust suggests 250 centres will close nationally with 2,000 providing a reduced service.

The council could not provide any information on reductions to centre hours before this article was published.