Parents should have a voice running our children’s centre

Labour’s health spokesperson on Tower Hamlets Council wants parents to have a say in how Sure Start children’s centres are run. These are dedicated places where toddlers and even babies get the right opportunities growing up so they can escape the East End’s poverty trap—but are under threat from spending cuts. She explains her motives for taking on the fight as well as campaigning on issues of the NHS and nightclubs:

Anyone reading the East London Advertiser will know how important our Sure Start children’s centres are in the East End in giving all babies and toddlers the best possible start in life.

I was really proud of these centres in my area, Bow, partly because they were run under contract to Tower Hamlets council by Poplar HARCA and the Bromley-by-Bow Centre, which meant that parents could take advantage of the help with jobs or benefits run by the same organisations really easily.

But those contracts were ended, as a part of Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s budget last month.

Today in the Advertiser (Thurs), I am launching a campaign along with the other councillors to give parents a voice in the governance of the children’s centres.

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Why shouldn’t mothers and fathers have a say in running those vital services that are there to support them and their children? They should get in touch if they would like to join the campaign.

On other issues, there is a lot of confusion at the moment about what the Conservative-led government is doing on the NHS.

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I am against the attempts to break up our health service, but am confident that our GPs and health professionals in the East End are working to keep what’s best of our current services and make the most of the investment of the last Labour government, such as the new Royal London Hospital at Whitechapel.

What’s needed is a stronger people’s voice in the NHS. I know that the GP networks want to hear from people. As Labour shadow health spokesperson on Tower Hamlets Council, I will be working to make sure that happens.

Meanwhile, it has also been a difficult few months in other matters, protecting our community from the Conservative-led government’s massive cuts where areas like Tower Hamlets took the biggest hit of all.

There is one resource, though, in which we are richer than anywhere else—the strength of our people.

Life isn’t always easy. But when I knock on doors in Mile End, I see people looking out for their neighbours, doing what they can to make their street a better place to live.

For example, families in Mossford street, Eric Street, Wentworth Mews and nearby, as well as over the road in Bow, had to stick together to deal with the noise, mess and nuisance that has been coming out of the nightclub at Mile End variously known as E3, La Boheme or Broke London.

Councillors and residents worked together before to tackle it, and we’ll do so again at tonight’s Licensing hearing (Thursday, May 21, Town Hall in Blackwall, 6pm).

Rachael Saunders

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