Uncertain Starts

In which Lia Mandaracas and Alexandra Chatfield look at the impact closing Sure Start centres has had across Medway..

Part 1 / Lia Mandaracas

Sure Start, since its introduction in 1999 transformed the lives of families with under 5s. By 2009 there were over 3600 centres with most of them concentrated in disadvantaged areas. In mid-2016, Medway Council made significant savings with a staffing restructure and reduced sessions, which came with assurances that this was the only way to save the full provision. By early 2017 they proposed closing all centres in favour of four “super hubs” that would serve wide areas and 0-19 rather than 0-5. Due to public pressure they relented slightly and created the super hubs with satellite centres to run some sessions, although these centres no longer had continuity of staff or full time opening hours. I thought I would take a look at the effects on service users, the impact on the councils Key Performance Indicators, and Ofsted results compared to other parts of the country.

For background here are two speeches I gave to the council drawing on evidence from other councils to speculate on what closing Medway Sure Starts might mean.

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iFAQ: Pentagon purchase

Following on from Medway Council’s decision to pursue a purchase of the Pentagon Centre in Chatham, we sent the following question to relevant portfolio holders, ward councillors, those seeking to represent the ward, and other local organisations:

Do you believe £45m to purchase the Pentagon Shopping Centre is a good use of council funds and why?

As usual, we told everyone that their answers would be published entirely unedited. They are presented below in the order they were received.

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Virtual Doorstep: 19 Weeks to go..

It is said that elections are won on the doorstep, and that may well be true. Being armchair activists, it’s difficult to check up on that.
Twitter and blogs however are part of our social media present and future, and if the election was decided there, how would each of the wards be looking?

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