Chairman refuses to talk to our reporter about why group is planning to slash budget by £1.1m

He wants to cut funding to Pen Green
He wants to cut funding to Pen Green

The man making savage cuts to the Pen Green Centre’s budget has again refused to talk to the people of Corby about the issue.

Despite repeated attempts by Pen Green and the Evening Telegraph, the Schools Forum chairman Jamie Clarke will not talk about his group’s proposal to to cut £1.1m from the centre’s budget over the next three years.

Even when the Evening Telegraph sent a reporter to Sponne School in Towcester, where Mr Clarke is headteacher, on Friday he declined to speak to us face-to-face and instead provided a short statement through his personal assistant.

The Evening Telegraph had already left three messages for Mr Clarke, but he has not returned any of the calls.

Bosses at the Corby centre say the budget cuts would decimate staff and the services offered to children and families.

The Schools Forum will decide whether to impose the cuts at its meeting in March.

Evening Telegraph reporter Ian Gallagher said: “We turned up at Sponne School with some very straightforward questions for Mr Clarke but he has once again declined to speak to us.

“We think he owes it to the thousands of people who use and support the Pen Green Centre to explain why these cuts are being proposed for a service so successful it is renowned across the world.”

Mr Clarke’s statement said: “The Schools Forum, in considering how it will allocate its budgets for the coming year, is examining the additional funding given to Pen Green and Camrose, a Northampton children’s centre, above and beyond their normal allocations.

“It is worth pointing out that of all of the other children’s centres in Northamptonshire, no others get this additional funding and we need to examine the outcomes that Camrose and Pen Green achieve for children and families so we can make a judgement about the effectiveness of the funding.”

Corby MP Louise Bagshawe criticised Mr Clarke for not speaking to us.

She said: “He is running from the local media. I would hope he is aware of the support for Pen Green, and if he is not it is one of the reasons why it is important to lobby.

“If they don’t understand what Pen Green is because they come from Towcester, I will make sure they do by the end of this.

“I am trying to find out if the county council has any supervising power whatever and if they can stop this.”

The minutes from the Schools Forum meeting where the cuts were announced will be published on Wednesday.

Pen Green head Heather Donoyou said: “We have a meeting on Monday with the county officers about the situation.

“From our point of view, we hope after the minutes are published they will be in a position to speak with us and facilitate a conversation.

“We hope we will see some changes coming and we expect the conversation will be on a different level.”

The Schools Forum is an independent body and is not under the control of the county council.