Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Children's Centre Update

This morning Cllr O'Hanlon and I met with staff from the Early Years team at the Council regarding the proposed Children's Centre which may be built at Butterstile School. I am a governor at the school, and of course also a Councillor for the local residents, which could put me in a bit of a bind if the school want the Children's Centre and the residents don't. There have been concerns about parking and traffic congestion from residents, and concerns about governance and cost overruns from the school and the Council. So much so that original plans have now been scrapped, I learned today. In their place has come a new plan which saves money by rejecting the idea of a new-build Children's Centre, and instead uses two classrooms at the school, and provides for the construction of two new classrooms for the school to use for teaching instead. Unfortunately, the plans don't as yet mention details such as parking provision.

Cllr O'Hanlon and I have asked for details to be given to us at the earliest opportunity, and have asked once again for a meeting to be organised between local people and the school and the council to thrash out any problems and keep in mind the concerns of locals as part of consultation. The entire process is being rushed because of the government's deadline to spend the money, which is worrying given the crucial role the Children's Centre will have on the community. We should be getting it right, but as ever there isn't enough time or money, and it's frustrating. I will be pressing for far more joint discussions between the (whole) governing body and local residents as this progresses. The project impacts on too many people to just be a decision made by the headteacher and chair of governors.

One of the other key issues around the Children's Centre, particularly given the topic of last night's LAP sub-group planning meeting, is to make sure that outreach work in areas of deprivation like Rainsough and Carr Clough continues. We have the ideal opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by using some of the money to renovate the derelict shops on Rainsough and installing a Children's Centre outreach point. Unfortunately the government guidance states that the centres should preferably be sited on school sites, so it hasn't been included in plans this time round. We will be making sure that outreach work to our most needy communities isn't forgotten as this project develops, and that it is as effective as possible. As time goes on, I will be pressing for ever-closer working relationships with Salford CC in the hope that we can link Rainsough renovation with the Children's Centre project.


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