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13 October 2021

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Hackney: Stop closure of Fernbank and Hillside children's centres

photo Chris Newby

photo Chris Newby   (Click to enlarge)

Chris Newby, Hackney Socialist Party

On 8 October, over 50 parents, children and members of public sector union Unison protested to demand that Fernbank and Hillside children's centres in Hackney, east London, be kept open. Hackney council is proposing to close them from August next year.

Staff only found out about the proposed closures after they had been announced in a local newspaper. 109 places for children will be cut - over half are from lower-income families.

The parents really value the work of the staff with their children, and have developed good links with the staff and their union. Parents and staff are determined to fight these cuts. Union membership has nearly doubled since the closure was announced.

More cuts coming

Parent Natalie Aguilera, spokesperson of the campaign, said: "If we allow these children's centres to be closed, I believe that more will follow, as Hackney Council continues to make cuts to vital services. Parents are... deeply anxious about the impact on their children, as well as the enormous difficulty of finding affordable childcare elsewhere.

"We call on Hackney Council to stop these closures, and we will continue to fight for the wonderful, long-serving staff, the young children attending this incredible children's centre, families being supported by the centre, and for more, not less, quality, affordable childcare in Hackney."

The Socialist Party fully supports the parents and workers in their fight to keep the centres open, and will do what we can to support the campaign. We say there should be no cuts to any of the council services.

Instead, Hackney Council should use its reserves immediately to stop any cuts, and then launch a campaign involving the unions, community organisations and residents to demand the government give Hackney the funding for the services that it needs.

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Article dated 13 October 2021

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