The consultation event at Dinnington Community Primary was a bit of an eye opener, this was of course our chance to find out about the plans to close children’s centres in Dinnington, Anston, Kiveton and Thurcroft, and a chance for all to air their views.
Parents and staff from the Children’s Centre were joined by local ward councillors, town councillors and two members of the actual cabinet from the Town Hall itself, Children’s Services supremo Paul Larkin and Deputy Leader Jahangir Akhtar.
Local activist Dave Smith was also present and was unsympathetic to the Council’s case for closing all the Children’s Centres in the Rother Valley South Area. Cllr Larkin threatened to close the meeting and take his ball in if any one tried to make a political point, Cllr Akhtar accused Mr Smith of showing no respect (A bit rich given Cllr Akhtar’s criminal conviction for assault, but never mind)
The lady chairing the meeting kind of lost her credibility when she admitted to a parent that they didn’t actually know how well attended each centre was.
She also told us that the service would improve despite any closures so a parent asked then why not close all the centres if the mystery alternative is better. Again no answer!
Firebrand independent Cllr Stuart Thornton was next, pointing out that the consultation was a bit of a fix given that Cllrs had already voted for the cuts by approving the budget. This was met by howls of protest from the cabinet members and Cllr Jacquie Falvey (who had stayed obediently quiet throughout the previous exchange)
Cllr Paul Larkin settled the issue by admitting that yes the money has already been cut from his budget, but that if the “consultation” decided the centres had to stay open he would cut it from somewhere else in the Children and Young Persons budget.
Sort of robbing Peter to pay Paul! (Paul Larkin, get it? Not sure who Peter is…)
The Cllrs from Dinnington Town Council also held their tongues, thanks for your help there ladies and gentlemen! Not.
Cllr Akhtar got really surreal when he suggested that the dissenting voices in the room were upsetting the children (who were happily playing football at the back as far as I could see)
At this point I had to leave to pick my daughter up so cannot report further on the proceedings.
I never got the chance to air my views, but I fear they would not have been important to the cynical self serving officials and Labour Councillors who frankly give not one jot for the children of Dinnington and Anston.