Experts agree that Sure Start centres, introduced by Tony Blair and the Labour government, have been keys to helping children and families. They have made huge differences to families who have faced problems, and their locations in the community have been vital. Sure Start centres have changed lives.
Now despite opposition by community groups and all other parties on Hampshire County Council, the Conservatives are closing 43 of the 54 centres across the county, including all of the New Forest ones except the new “hub” at Cadland Primary School in Holbury. Family support services are being cut too.
This is a disaster for the Forest – and for local families who reply on the support the centres give them. Sure Start centres were a Labour idea and many Conservatives agreed they did fantastic jobs. The closures are a false economy, as they will just lead to slower and more expensive help being needed by families later. The closure of the centres in Fordingbridge, Lymington, New Milton, Waterside and Totton mean that families will now need to travel up to 30 miles each way to get help, and public transport to the Holbury site is very difficult.
This is a cruel and unnecessary cut condemned by experts, all other parties and the majority of the public who have been asked about it.