Kettering councillor says consultation for universal children’s services is a ‘sham’

Today's consultation event was held at Kettering Library
Today's consultation event was held at Kettering Library

A consultation to assess the needs for universal children’s services in the county has been labelled a ‘sham’ by a concerned councillor.

The county council’s plan to shut down 21 of its 36 libraries mean the children’s services currently provided in the libraries will have relocate to other venues.

However all of the consultations to assess the need for universal children’s services are taking place in the libraries that are staying open.

Libraries at Earls Barton, Rothwell, Danesholme in Corby, and Wollaston are among the smaller libraries set to close and do not feature in the consultation events.

The first consultation event took place at Kettering library in Sheep Street today (April 27) and only a few people went along.

Cllr Mick Scrimshaw said: “This is outrageous.

“It is an example of a sham consultation and they are not even hiding the fact.

“What is the point in only talking to people who use the services that are not going to be affected?”

Universal children’s services include the provision of free early years for two, three and four-year-olds.

The consultation will be used to put together a new service model. According to an NCC report the “model will be community based, working in areas of greatest need to address inequalities, complimenting exists health and children’s services.”

Strategic manager of the Libraries Service Anne Breen was at the Kettering consultation. She said: “The consultations are to assess the need for the services and for families to find out more about what is happening. Some people may also have suggestions about where we can provide the services when the libraries close.”

Cllr Scrimshaw thinks after the consultation, cuts to services will be made.

He said: “The cynic in me wonders how many people are going to respond to the consultation and the worry is that this is going to be used to justify more cuts to services.”

The eight large libraries across Northamptonshire will remain open at Corby Cube, Kettering Library, Wellingborough Library, Northamptonshire Central Library, Weston Favell Library, Rushden Library, Daventry Library and Towcester Library.

The seven medium sized libraries will also remain.

A number of community groups across the county are attempting to save the smaller libraries and carrying on running them themselves. They have until May 31st to put in their plans. The  under threat libraries are all set to close their doors on August 31 this year.

People can fill in an online consultation by visiting www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/consultation