This is a sad week for Rotherham.

This is a sad week for Rotherham. RMBC’s Cabinet has agreed to close 10 of the Borough’s 22 Sure Start children’s centres.

Anyone who cares about our town and/or social justice will be saddened to see the removal of such a vital lifeline for many of our town’s most vulnerable families and children. It is easy at times like these to resort to political points scoring but to do so does nothing positive for our town.

Many people who read and contribute to this blog will know that I am a trade union organiser; indeed some consider that to be worse than being a city speculator or a tax evading tory donor. I guess that’s just how it is and to be honest I couldn’t care less. As far as I’m concerned the fact that nobody on this forum may agree with me does not mean that I am wrong. I believe in what I believe in and I will represent my members to the best of my ability. I certainly make no apology for that. It is a privilege to represent working people and I seek no thanks for doing so.

However, I also care deeply about Rotherham and that is part of the reason why I have driven UNISON’s campaign to save our children’s centres. My allegiances are to the working class and Rotherham. I have no allegiance to Labour, although I still believe they are our best hope of achieving a fair society.

If people choose to question my motives that’s fine but I would ask any such person what they did to oppose the closure of children’s centres. I can sleep at night because I know that I genuinely couldn’t have done any more. How many of my critics can say the same?

I’m sure that various people will seek to take credit for the fact that Dinnington, Park View and Wath Victoria children’s centres will now be spared. I believe this partial victory is due in part to common-sense; it simply made no sense to cut off areas at the north and south extremities of the borough; and due in part to the views expressed through the public consultation, which saw more than 1700 responses.

We worked tirelessly to help make it easy for parents to participate in the consultation. In addition to our 6000 name petition we produced draft letters for parents to send to their councillors; we provided details of every councillor for each ward, including surgery details and we highlighted those councillors who were up for election. We have kept the issue in the public domain and we have held a number of events, which have sought to unite people and provide a community focus.

These have been covered by the local and regional press. If people choose to believe that none of this has had any impact on RMBC or any influence on shaping the final proposals then there’s not a lot I can do about that. We have spent countless unpaid hours on this campaign and I challenge anyone who wants to criticise us to tell me exactly what their contribution has been.

The closure of 10 children’s centres is extremely sad news for our town. I will continue to fight the cuts. Are you with me or against me?

Robin Symonds

12 thoughts on “This is a sad week for Rotherham.

  1. Short sighted to close children’s centres. The results will be seen in a few years time when the results of key stage 1 and SATs are announced. Short term economic stupidity, long term suffering for the deprived communities of Rotherham. How many cllrs children and grandchildren will be affected, pause for thought.

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  2. Labour is our best hope of achieving a “fair society!” After 13 years of the last lot and Mandleswine’s very revealing comment of, ” I’m incredibly relaxed about people becoming filthy rich under New Labour”, their legacy sure as hell wasn’t a fair society! With a large majority Blair and co even walked away from reform of the House of Lords, but of course all these true Labour people are well ensconced in there now!

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  3. Robin your dedication is admirable. I don’t agree with your analysis of the Labour party – not unless they drop some dead wood and the “we know what’s best for you” attitude – but I do agree that it is very a sad day for Rotherham and the many people who will now lose yet another vital service.

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  4. I also respect and admire your commitment and dedication, Robin and agree with your stance on this dreadful situation. I do not have the belief that you hold about the Labour Party, in Rotherham but hopefully the input of the newly elected will have a positive effect, for the benefit of everyone in our town.

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  5. A+ for dedication to your members interests and your efforts to stop the closures of SSC’s.
    You are wrong about the Labour party and a fairer society but you’d expect me to say that would’nt you??

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  6. Th electioneering has started.
    Mahroof Hussain MBE ‏@mahroofhussain
    Despite severe Govt cuts to sure start budgets following public consultation we have saved 12 sure start centres at a cost of £2.4m.

    Despite severe Govt cuts to sure start budgets following public consultation we have saved 12 sure start centres at a cost of £2.4m— Mahroof Hussain MBE (@mahroofhussain) June 18, 2014

    You will notice there is no mention of the protests by the general public or the petition raised by Robin Symonds of this parish highlighting the closures
    Same old story from Moofy: Me,me,me.

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  7. @Robin Symonds
    I don’t think anyone has objected to your contribution to fight the closures, and as I quite rightly said good effort on collecting 6,000 signatures. However I can assure you, you were not on your own in standing up against the closures, lots of none Union people did also.
    As for Labour, well, here is what your affiliated union Member Cllr Judy Dalton says (look at her twitter on the right)
    “We have saved 12 sure start centres”, Bull*it, and this from the Anston Cllr who voted in the budget to close the Centre at Anston.
    “saving 12”, when they have closed 10 is hardly something to shout about, it just shows how far out of touch these people really are.
    As for Mahroof, he proposed Option two, and then spoke for 2 and a half minutes about the Government cuts, with not one mention at all of the Sure Start Centres. At the end of the day, RMBC are given a pot of money to spend by the Government, its RMBC who decides which area to cut, so they have to take the brunt of the blame.
    If you believe that Labour are the best chance for a fair society, check out the polls, 3 out of 5 people don’t want Red Ed to run the Country.

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  8. Stuart, I know that other people stood up against the closures…I had the pleasure of standing alongside the parents’ committee at Cortonwood centre and marching to the Wath public consultation meeting with staff, parents and kids from the Cortonwood and Wath Victoria centres. However, you accused me of “a cynical union stunt”, and a photo op and said that the petition was a waste of time. I think that entitles me to ask what your contribution was.

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    • I think that the answer would be “not a lot”. I am sure that we have all seen the news this week and are aware of many councils having to reduce spending across a range of services, including childrens services. Money for early years came from the Government, and now it has ceased. It is not difficult therefore ,to work out that sooner or later , sadly, those services will close. They cannot sustain themselves. I think that if Stuart thinks that it is only Rotherham making cuts he must have his head stuck firmly up his bottom .(not something any of us want to think about). Simply criticising the cuts that all Councils are having to make is not particularly helpful. We can all do that, and it isnt clever or insighful. Does he have an alternative ?. Does he think that UKIP would not be making cuts? Seriously? He needs to work out what side he is on.

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      • RMBC Cllrs currently pay themselves well in excess of a million quid a year. This amount has not been cut, despite being very generous compared to neighbouring authorities.

        So here’s an idea, let’s cut that in half and then reduce it by a further 10% for 3 years after that. We can then spend the money on children.

        Oh and lets do the same to the half mill a year they spend on external consultants.

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