Tag Archives: Norfolk County Council

Sure Start and the big picture: bidding farewell to Children’s Centres in Norfolk

Norfolk County Council passed its budget earlier in the month. Nothing remarkable about that – councils up and down the land have been doing the same. In Norfolk, though, it marked the final act in an intense debate about how the Council supports new families and gives children a fair start in life. It’s a debate that has exposed some of the rawest edges of today’s politics.

Sure Start was a noble idea from the first Blair government: Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 manifesto described it as one of the Labour government’s greatest achievements. It aimed to deliver support to children from disadvantaged families by breaking down the barriers they face when accessing services. Children’s Centres were at the heart of the ‘offer’. A network of one-stop shops where families could find a range of support. Support that would ensure children were well looked after, their health needs met and they were equipped to learn and develop as they headed towards their school years. Changes to the funding regime introduced by the Coalition saw funding for Children’s Centres cut by almost £1 billion across that government’s term. The argument in favour of that change was that Children’s Centres are an inefficient way of supporting families that are most in need and that it makes more sense to have a flexible provision that can be better targeted and so deliver good outcomes and better value for money.

In the end, Norfolk County Council voted to close 38 of its 53 Children’s Centres and to halve the budget for the services that had been delivered through them. Time will tell whether I was right in warning that the £1 million cut in funding for front line service delivery is storing up trouble for the future – I sincerely hope I am wrong. What I learned from the months of debate, though, went well beyond the question of how best to deliver early help for families.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Norfolk’s Green Group Leader defects… to the Tories

Courtesy of Andrew Sinclair, BBC East’s political correspondent

Philip Hardy, the Group Leader for the Greens on Norfolk County Council, and councillor for Thorpe Hamlet has defected to the Conservatives, the first Green councillor thought to have done so. Elected to the council in 2009, he gained the seat from the Liberal Democrats, before becoming Group Leader in July last year.

From the Eastern Daily Press;

Derrick Murphy, leader of Norfolk County Council hailed Mr Hardy’s move as a “major coup”. He said: “Philip is a fantastic councillor who has already managed to make Norfolk a better place through his work on

Posted in News | Also tagged | 13 Comments
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