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Campaign saves Bury Sure Start centres
Labour established Sure Start centres to provide education and health services for pre-school children. Now Labour councils are using government cuts as an excuse to close them down! Campaigners in Bury have won a victory in saving two centres. But another six are still slated for closure. Paul Gerrard is a member of the local National Union of Teachers branch, which backs the campaign. He spoke to Liz Wheatley, an NHS nurse and Sure Start parent involved in organising it.
How does it feel to have saved your centre?
Fabulous to have achieved a partial victory - by retaining the buildings previously destined for tendering to private childcare providers. However, we are concerned the two centres saved have been allocated too little funds, staff and attention for them to continue to provide services to a high standard.
How has the council handled campaigners?
We've had a constant battle with them to make their 'consultation' more transparent and accessible to parents, and this has created an 'us-and-them' attitude in elected members and senior officers. To present a petition of some 3,000-plus signatures, and have not one Labour councillor support it, was quite frankly shocking.
As an NHS worker, do you feel confident in any of the major parties to defend the NHS?
No. The NHS requires a true commitment to not only retain its ethos - free healthcare for all - but to ensure it delivers a service that is of high quality, safe, effective and world leading. Not one party has given me any confidence that our NHS, something we should all be proud of, will even be prioritised.
What do you think of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)?
It's great to see TUSC supporters taking action against evidently poor parliamentary representation and standing for their own areas in the next general election. A voice for local campaigners and real representation of the community is needed - we cannot continue fighting central government on our own.
Bringing together activists and providing a platform to represent local people with real commitment to change is desperately needed. I look forward to seeing local TUSC candidates increase in Greater Manchester over the coming months.
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