|Children at Venture Centre Adventure Playground face fears of closure|
In yet another utterly shambolic and logic-defying decision by the self-professed ‘richest borough in the universe’, RBKC Council is at the point of rubbishing years of excellent work by closing its Play Services. Children of low-income working parents are to be hit hardest, as the result of what is feared to be a pre-determined ‘Review’ is proposing that the after-school and holiday play services that so many rely upon are to be effectively privatised. Cut off from any form of Council subsidy, the cost of this service is destined to go through the roof and be unaffordable for many.
All this to save a measly £500,000 over three years.
A measly £500,000, regarded as a ‘tough decision in times of austerity’. This is in addition to the £500k already cut from Youth Services as youth crime and violence rises, the £340k cut from Special Educational Needs Transport that caused huge upset and allegedly put our most vulnerable children in danger, and the upcoming reorganisation of Children’s Centres and Nurseries to save £500k, that will ‘amalgamate’ services and is feared to reduce numbers of places and increase costs to an unaffordable level.
Where precisely is the logic of NOT making work pay for hard-pressed parents and carers? What will be the human cost of families no longer able to work their hours, of children stuck in an overcrowded home after school and during holidays, losing out on the very creative and physically healthy activities offered at after-school and holiday play centres?
To think the Council are supporting a study on childhood obesity, at the same time!
So while the Council is trimming costs and services left, right and centre in the name of austerity, they are simultaneously proposing handing over a whopping £5m to cut loose from its loss-making Opera Holland Park, which some calculate has already lost the Council cc£20m. The season is just two months a year, which equates to a loss of cc£16,000 A DAY. And the current director, who has presided over this loss-making fiasco, is to be guaranteed his position in the new, taxpayer-funded venture.
Some Councils are genuinely struggling financially. Ours is not. It has stashed £283m of YOUR money in an ‘under-the-mattress’ fund whose return is so low that, taking inflation into account, it actually LOSES £12m/year.
So. Cuts for Play Services, that help nurture children in their early years, add immeasurably to their safety, social skills, health and well-being, and help parents work, study, or care for others. And £5m for Opera.
*Sometimes* services that cost money are excellent value; this is certainly the case with our Play Services. Our Council knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. And this terrible, illogical and dangerous situation could blight an entire generation of children.
STOP PRESS: This issue will be debated at Full Council on Weds 3.12.14, from 6.30pm in the Council Chamber. Come to the Public Gallery and show your support for parents and children in the borough.