On the future of York Gardens Children’s Centre
Shortly before Christmas I had one of my regular meetings with Aaron Barbour, the director of Katherine Low Settlement. Aaron mentioned that KLS had recently found out that Wandsworth Council were planning a reorganisation of childcare services across the Borough, and that there would be implications for one of our local children’s centres, York Gardens. Naturally enough, I was quite concerned to hear this, and thought it would be good to register that concern with the Council, and to encourage members of St Mary’s to do so too. I drafted a template letter and took copies to church that Sunday, and some people certainly took the opportunity to send it on.
Since then I have had something of a baptism of fire in public life in Battersea, and have had conversations with quite a few councillors, civil servants, childcare and early years professionals; I have learned about different policies, the political process, and quite a few new bits of jargon. In the course of my research, having spoken to quite a few different people from across the political spectrum, I learned of a number of fairly serious issues I felt needed a response from the Council – and members of the Battersea Community Organising Group seemed to agree.
Together we drafted a letter addressed to Sarah McDermott, the cabinet minister for Children’s Services. A copy of this letter can be found by clicking here; please do have a read of it yourself if you would like to know more about our concerns. A few of us visited York Gardens Children’s Centre on Monday 14th January, as we knew that Councillors were coming to have a tour of the venue, to help them make decisions about its future. We had a useful conversation with Rachel Egan, the civil servant overseeing the process, we handed out copies of the letter, and generally made our presence felt. And so the process rolls on …. Watch this space for more updates in the coming months.
It has been interesting to witness how important York Gardens Children’s Centre is to local people, and that a threat to such a service will motivate people to stand up, make their voice heard, and participate in the process. If you would like to join in our campaign to support York Gardens Children’s Centre, please do come along to our next regular monthly meeting on Tuesday 19th February, 7-9pm, this time at Silesian House, 47 Surrey Ln, SW11 3PB.
The Council seem to have realised that their consultation process was not carried out in the ideal fashion, and have tabled new public consultation meetings. Unfortunately, they set it up so that you had to pre-book to attend, and the brief window for doing that has now closed; however, there’s no reason not to come along to Katherine Low Settlement, for example, on Monday 21st January, at 6.00pm.