Political storm over Sure Start funding

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GREEN and Labour councillors have clashed over the future of Sheffield’s Sure Start centres for families and young children.

Leading Green councillor Jillian Creasy said the new council budget did not include any more money for the service - a charge Labour rejects.

And though subsidies for childcare had been reinstated, Sure Start would not benefit because it doesn’t provide childcare, Coun Creasy said.

But Labour cabinet member for children and young people Coun Jackie Drayton accused the Greens of deliberately trying to mislead the public on the issue.

Coun Creasy said: “In the run-up to the local elections, Labour indicated that they would reverse at least some of the cuts to Sure Start.

“They promised if they were elected, they would ‘restore part of the cut to the child care component of children’s centres, Sure Start and community nurseries subsidies”.

“Labour activists supported the Save Sure Start Campaign, which gathered 5,000 signatures and triggered a debate in full council. At that debate the Labour leader, Julie Dore spoke warmly about what Sure Start meant to her personally and Coun Drayton criticised the Lib Dems for cutting Sure Start.

“We pointed out at the time that, unlike the Green Party, Labour had not set aside enough money to save Sure Start. Supporting childcare, especially community nurseries, is valuable, but it won’t help Sure Start at all.

“Sure Start workers and families who value the service feel incredibly let down because they believed Labour was supporting them,” Coun Creasy added.

But Coun Drayton said: “I must say I’m a bit surprised at Coun Creasy’s comments.

“She appears to be deliberately trying to mislead the public on this issue.

“As part of our budget amendment, Labour committed to restoring part of the cuts and this is exactly what we have done. In fact, Coun Creasy even recognises that subsidies for childcare have been reinstated.”

Coun Drayton said: “Coun Creasey would be better directing her comments at the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat partners.”