Nick Clegg in Shepherd's Bush Children's Centre 'Gaffe'
Deputy PM visited centre that had just lost its grant
Labour MP for Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter is claiming that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has made a gaffe by extolling the virtues of a children's centre which Conservative Hammersmith and Fulham Council is about to evict from its premises.
Mr. Clegg recently visited the Shepherd's Bush Families’ Project to promote the coaltion government's policies on social mobility. The Council has recently turned down an application for a grant from Families Project which runs the Centre and the Council are proposing to sell the premises and evict all the occupants.
There appears to have been a lack of communication between the Deputy Prime Minister's office and the Council who reportedly only heard of the planned visit a few hours before it took place and were unable to brief him on the situation. Mr. Clegg was presented with cards from the children asking them to save their centre and parents asked him repeatedly to intervene to stop the Council selling the premises.
A Council spokesman said: "Shepherd's Bush Families Project (SBFP) is receiving £250,000 from H&F Council this year – which is more than we gave them last year. The council is currently asking residents whether nine buildings, including Bulwer Street, should be sold to help reduce the council's toxic debt mountain and protect front-line services. No decisions have been made but if the council does decide to sell the property all groups will be provided with independent support to find a new home potentially in other council-owned buildings."
The Council also dismiss claims that the failure of the centre to get their grant represents a cut. The Centre was seeking to provide an after-school service for 5-13s and holiday programmes for families in housing need. However, they say there is alternative provision being developed locally in Addison and St Stephens schools, and the children’s centre is also providing after school and holiday activities that could attract children over five years old.
A spokesperson for the Deputy Prime Minister said "Nick Clegg was pleased to visit this centre and see the good work that it does. “The precise funding of individual centres is a matter for individual councils. But this Government has ensured that funding for Sure Start centres has been ring-fenced this year to ensure that they can continue that good work.”
August 19, 2010