Freedom of Information request revelation:
A £10.5 million payment for the 3 acres of Shirley Park and taxpayer owned adjacent landholdings was laid down in the 2004 Development Agreement with Asda-Parkgate developers, Shirley Advance.
Residents were shocked to discover that there would be no payment for their land holdings transferred to Shirley Advance and that the premium was now deemed a ‘nil value’ as part of the council’s support for Parkgate during the recent downturn.
In its hard copy, this week’s Solihull News reports that Solihull Council has now decided to close all but four of its children’s centres.
Lower attendance levels allegedly due to a deteriorating out-sourced service
A council spokeswoman correctly said: “Some of these buildings have fairly low attendance levels”. Local residents explain that the centres were well used until privatised. A typical experience was that of the purpose-built Monkspath centre after the transfer, when user-families found that current activities were not maintained and services there were considerably reduced.
Councillor Chris Williams was quoted in the Solihull News: “If these services are run from other venues like community halls, I can’t see them being able to offer the same service . . .The centres, many of which are attached to schools and run by various charity organisations, would either be leased or sold”.
‘The greatest financial saving’: a false economy – short-termism
An experienced local parent reminds us that children from affluent areas can have ‘time-poor’ parents and – just like their contemporaries in ‘deprived areas’ – in later life become addicted to drugs, or acutely depressed or turn to crime.
As the council’s website said – at the time of writing – the children’s centres, in purely financial terms, give children the best start in life, with less expensive intervention and demand on other public services later when more serious problems arise.
Green and Liberal Democrat councillors are supporting calls for a reintroduction of the ring-fenced grant, upholding government’s instruction to local authorities that Sure Start should be prioritised.
Should corporate interests be preferred to those of the people Solihull Council were elected to serve?