Friday, March 28, 2008

Interesting Answer

Nearly a year ago I signed up to They Work For You's service which sends you an email every time your MP speaks in the House of Commons. It's really quite useful if you want to keep an eye on what an MP is saying.

Yesterday, Laura Moffatt asked the following question in the 'Business of the House' debate:

The issue of children has rightly come up already in business questions. Would my right hon. and learned Friend consider a debate on the importance of play? The excellent children's plan published earlier this month demonstrates that organised play for children is a key part of their development. I want this debate to put off local authorities that are short-sightedly thinking of closing play centres on financial grounds alone. I want the issues properly explored to stop them doing so.

Well, clearly the MP shares suspicions that the Crawley Tories are planning to close Play Centres in Crawley (Northgate and Southgate have been suggested as targets), and are hoping to save money by doing so.

The answer, from Harriet Harman, was more interesting than the question though:

No local authority should cut play services. The Government have put an extra £250 million into children's play services and I know that my hon. Friend has been a great champion of children's services in Crawley. If the Conservative council in Crawley is cutting children's play services, it should not do so, and I suggest that my hon. Friend applies for an Adjournment debate.

So, if there's more money available, why would Crawley Borough Council wish to reduce provision in the town? What is the idea?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Local Tories at Play

The local Tories, having gained control of the Borough Council, have certainly been revealing their true colours.

First they tried to sell tenants a bunch of lies (or were they just ridiculously awful calculations that no-one bothered to check?), but thanks to the tenants, local opposition, the Government of the South East, the Audit Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority they failed. Still, the people of Crawley in their wisdom returned even more Tory councillors last May.

Now they are going for the Play Service. Last year proposals came out to 'rationalise' the play areas, which appear to have been put into abeyance for a while. Maidenbower will get a new play area though (which is fine, no problem at all, although the developers should have put it in years ago, not the taxpayers).

Instead of shutting down play areas, looks like the Tories are instead going to close down Play Centres. These are the places that stay open after schools close so that children can play in a secure environment before parents pick them up. They are incredibly popular during school holidays, because parents can't all get time off in six week blocks.

The two centres that I know of being under the knife are Northgate and Southgate. Southgate has in the last two years voted for a Conservative councillor. In order, presumably, to avoid the risk that people around here see what the Tories are up to and vote accordingly, the decision has been postponed until June.

Typically, the Tories will tell you all about the 2% increase in Council Tax, but won't tell you which services will be cut as a result. The truth is that they will be hitting the children, and given that delinquency is linked to a lack of provision for kids, adding to the problems of youths hanging around with 'nothing to do' until they get into trouble. It's not just hugging hoodies, it's increasing the problems for and associated with youth.

Vote Tory - have more kids hanging on the street corners!