Mayor defends children’s centre cuts as residents protest outside Hackney Town Hall 

Protest to save Fernbank children's centre outside Hackney Town Hall
Protesters are fighting Hackney council’s plans to shut two children’s centres Pic: @WendyPettifer 

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville defended plans to close two children’s centres, as residents protested outside the town hall.   

Protesters are fighting the Labour council’s plans to cut Fernbank children’s centre in Clapton and Hillside children’s centre in Stamford Hill due to financial problems. 

Hackney Mayor, Philip Glanville, used his speech in the council chamber to recognise residents’ concerns.

He said: “If we didn’t have to do this, we wouldn’t.”  

He went on to blame the government, citing the £140 million of cuts inflicted on Hackney’s budget over the past decade as “some of the biggest cuts in London”. 

“The Tories are letting our children down,” he added.  

The emergency protest was called by the Save Fernbank children’s centre campaign and joined by the local branches of the Women’s Equality Party and the trade union Unison, following a petition signed by over 1,000 people. 

Simche Steinberger, a Conservative councillor for Hackney’s Springfield ward, rejected that the blame lay with the Conservative government and labelled the cuts a “disgrace”.

He said: “These are your people [protesting], you have the Labour party out there with a banner.”

He added that there were: “Two year olds outside crying for their [nursery] places”.

Natalie Aguilera, a spokesperson for the Save Fernbank children’s centre campaign, said in a statement that the campaign will continue to fight for “families being supported by the centre, and for more, not less, quality, affordable childcare in Hackney.”   

The Hackney branch of the Women’s Equality Party said on Twitter: “It makes no sense to cut any funding for children in the borough.” 

The planned closures come after Hackney Council revealed in July they had a children’s services overspend of over £10m, leading to the usage of £7m in reserves. 

The consultation on the closure of the two children’s centres will run until 16 November.

Reporter: Ruth Berry

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