Local Children's services

Children's services

County, District and Parish Councillors working together in call to protect Children’s services.

The KCC consultation is available both online and on paper.

I have been asked what I am doing about the Children’s centre, which is currently the subject of a KCC consultation. As many of you will know this is a County Council service, rather than one run by Sevenoaks’ District Council, but it is, nonetheless, a service I have consistently taken an interest in, both as a Councillor and as a father to three children, all of whom have used these services.

In January I wrote to our KCC member, David Brazier, asking that, if there isn’t budget to maintain the children’s centre in its current form (and there may not be), that we maintain the current level of service, using different local venues (of which there are quite a few possibilities).

In particular I stressed the importance of the Child Health Clinic (both the monthly drop in, and the scheduled development checks), the Stay and Play services, and the Rhyme Time groups (which are already held in our New Ash Green and Hartley libraries).  I have also subsequently responded to the consultation (see photo).

It is important that children’s services remain accessible by foot for our community, and keeping the services run locally is also useful in allowing referrals to some of our excellent volunteer groups. (e.g. Mums' and babies' group, the sling and nappy library, Ash Church Saplings etc.)

David’s response has been excellent.  He quickly ensured that discussions were set up between KCC officers and the management committee of the Youth Centre, as well as suggesting a number of other potential local venues which could be hired in the event that there isn’t budget to continue the lease on the existing NHS owned building.  I was present to hear him address the Parish Council on this issue, and it is clear he intends to fight hard to ensure services continue to be provided locally.

I would also like to thank those I have been able to speak to about this issue, including those running the local volunteer baby groups, as well other parents who use the Children’s services, and the very helpful KCC manager of Children's centres.  Additionally, the Acting Chairman of the Youth centre (retired Councillor for Hartley, John Kelly) has also been a great help as well as Parish Councillor, Jill Clucas, who has ensured that Ash-cum-Ridley lobbies KCC intelligently on this issue.

As a result, all three levels of local Government representatives are aligned in seeking to ensure these services continue to be provided locally.

This kind of collaborative working is part of the everyday business of all local government representatives and, in normal circumstances, I would not be posting about it here until the resolution of the issue (which I would hope to happen in April).

However, following some public statements from a (briefly) former Parish Councillor, I have found it necessary to write something here, at an earlier stage than usual.