Venue: Committee Room (B6) - Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton, London, SW2 1RW. View directions
Contact: Gary O'Key, Tel: 020 7926 2183, Email: email@example.com
Declaration of Pecuniary Interests
Under Standing Order 4.4, where any councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.
There were none.
Councillor Bartley made a statement to the Committee confirming that although he had signed the call-in form, he was approaching the subject with an open mind and would listen to all the arguments before making a decision.
Councillor Elliott, who was the lead Councillor for the call-in, gave a presentation to the Committee on the reasons for the call-in which focussed on the following key points:
Not enough consultation had taken place – with more
consultation focused on co-production with local residents all of
the 23 centres could have remained open.
10 weeks was not long enough for the consultation – other
Boroughs had consulted for 12 weeks when remodelling their
The consultation didn’t allow the most vulnerable residents,
residents from a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) background and
residents who didn’t speak English as their first language to
· The most vulnerable residents would be the most affected by these cuts, including residents living in poverty, and those accessing Domestic Violence and Mental Health Services from the centres.
Councillor Mosley, Elizabeth Owens and David Hopkins from Coin Street Community Builders, Marcus Chidgey and Temujin Gill from Cherry Tree Action Group, Ruth Cashman from Unison and Councillor Griffiths made representations on this item summarised as:
There was a feeling in the North of Lambeth that this area of the
Borough was bearing the brunt of development, without seeing any of
the benefits due to resources being diverted elsewhere. The
decision on Children’s Centres was an example of
The consultation was over complicated and confusing, and therefore
difficult for parents to engage with.
The users of Coin Street Children Centre were a 23 minute walk away
from the closest Children’s Centre proposed to remain open
– this was an issue particularly due to the 2 pushchair limit
Bishop’s Ward was cited as the ward with the highest crime
rate in the Borough – the decision to reduce early
years provision in this area seemed
reckless in this context.
The 10 week consultation period was not long enough when
considering that most of the centres were closed for at least 2
weeks during this time as it was over the Christmas
The consultation was not carried out rigorously. A savings figure
was quoted for the changes to the service. However it was stated at
a later meeting that it was unclear how many jobs would be lost as
a result of this decision. This suggested the information on which
the consultation was based, was incomplete.
Cherry Tree Children’s Centre had been part funded through
Children’s Centre funding by the Great Northwood Educational
Trust, and therefore needed to be part of the
· The Council had failed to provide enough Children’s Centres to meet need in the Borough.
During consideration of this item, the Guillotine fell at 9.00 p.m.
It was moved by the Chair, and:
RESOLVED: That the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes.
Councillor Brathwaite, Deputy Leader of the Council (Children and Young People); Tony Parker, Director of Children’s Commissioning and Community Safety and Laura Griffin, Commissioning Lead, Early years and Childcare responded to the points raised by the call-in:
The redesigned service was based on the principle of ensuring the
remaining Children’s Centres were as local as
The proposal kept 18 out of the existing 23 Children’s
Centres open, which was the third highest number of any London
· The grounds of an incomplete Childcare Sufficiency Assessment was not a valid reason for a call-in of the decision, as Childcare and Children’s Centre Provision were two completely different services.
· The data used for the Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA) was comprehensive, and the EQIA process for this decision was commended by the Chair of the EQIA Panel for the approach taken.
· The consultation complied with the 2018 statutory guidelines, as these guidelines did not set a time limit. Lambeth guidelines set out a minimum of 8 weeks, and the consultation lasted 10 weeks.
· The decision to close Cherry Tree’s Nursery was taken by the Great North Wood Educational Trust and not Lambeth Council. Cherry Tree had ceased to be a Children’s Centre in 2012 so this element of the call-in was not relevant to the decision.
· The proposed model was an area based model, and therefore to go ahead with the decision before the outcome of the Streatham consultation would not pre-empt the outcome of this consultation. The principle of an area based model was sound and the consultation in the Streatham area was to decide where the Streatham provision would need to be located.
· Funding was allocated on a per Children’s Centre basis, with staffing decisions as a result of this funding left to the provider delivering the centre. This was why the Council was able to estimate the savings through the model without knowing exactly how many posts would be lost as a result of the decision.
In response to questions from the Committee, Councillor Brathwaite confirmed that:
Childcare differed from services provided at Children’s
Centres in one key way – parents left children at Childcare
providers, whereas parents were required to stay on site when
attending Children’s Centres. This was why the Childcare
Sufficiency Assessment was not material to the decision taken on
Children’s Centres as they were different types of
Although the consultation period was shorter than some other
Boroughs, Lambeth ensured that face to face consultation events
happened at each Children’s Centre as it had been identified
that hard to reach groups would be more likely to engage face to
face than an online survey. Those Boroughs with a longer
consultation period often only utilised an online survey.
· Translation services were made available on request at the consultation events, provided the Council had been ... view the full minutes text for item 3.