Mike sends an open letter to the Leader of Medway Labour Group to set the record straight on Surestarts in Medway


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Date:24th May 2013

Cllr Vince Maple

Leader of the Labour Group

Medway Council

Gun Wharf

Dock Road




Councillor Mike O’Brien

Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services

Medway Council

Gun Wharf

Dock Road




Dear Cllr Maple,

I am writing to you regarding my dismay for the recent irresponsible leaflet and press release that the Labour Group have issued regarding Medway’s Sure Start Centres.

Your deliberately misleading leaflet is not only inaccurate but is in my opinion dishonest. The inference that Medway’s Sure Start centres are under threat is simply not true and scaremongering like this unnecessary. I personally find your willingness to pray on parents concerns for the benefit of political gain very distasteful.

Our 2011 manifesto (which guides our policy direction) pledged our commitment to Sure Start and it has been repeatedly stated at cabinet meetings that all sure start centres will remain open under this administration.

There is going to be a change in how Sure Start centres are operated, this I cannot deny.

Currently all children are entitled to a free nursery education for up to 15 hours a week place from shortly after their third birthday. In September, nearly 700 two-year-old children from families who live on a low income will be the first to be able to have a free nursery place for up to 15 hours each week. Then, from 2014 the number of Medway families whose two-year-old will be entitled to an early education place will increase to around 1,400 families.

In total, Medway Council will be increasing spending on early education for two-year-olds by over £3.5million per year by 2015.

The change at All Saints this autumn does mean the centre will not offer full day nursery places paid for by parents, which is in line with the government’s aims.

I should point out that the council has a statutory duty under the Education Act (2011) to ensure there are sufficient early education places for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

As this matter is of great importance I will be sending a copy of this letter to local media outlets to bring this matter to the public’s attention. Should you not raise any objections I will also endeavour to attend the public meeting and make myself available to those in attendance to provide an accurate picture of the changes.

 Yours sincerely,





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