Lambeth withdraw funding to Coin Street family and children’s centre

Lambeth Council failed to respond to the powerful arguments made by parents to Keep Coin Street Open for Lambeth Families. At the Council’s Cabinet meeting yesterday, proposals were approved to withdraw funding to Coin Street family and children’s centre.

The proposals follow the Council’s consultation which concluded in February. Coin Street is one of five children’s centres in Lambeth to have vital funding cut.

Of the outcome, Coin Street’s Director of Community, David Hopkins, says:

“Both parents and staff are devastated about Lambeth’s decision to pull the plug on their support for a local children’s centre for Waterloo families, after a proud 10 year history.

“Hundreds of families spoke up in defence of the life changing work which goes on at Coin Street family and children’s centre during the consultation, and highlighted Coin Street as a vital community resource for their children as they grow into young adults.

“The decision means Waterloo parents will now be expected to travel to Kennington or Oval to access their nearest Lambeth children’s centres, which are already oversubscribed. There will no longer be a local Children’s Centre within pram pushing distance, and inevitably children in our neighbourhood will be worse off in those crucial first five years of life.

“Our local MP Kate Hoey has pointed to the injustice of the situation, arguing that much more of the significant revenue Lambeth Council generates in Waterloo from development should stay in the area and be reinvested in vital facilities for the community such as Coin Street family and children’s centre.

“In the report which swung the axe on our children’s centre, Lambeth Council pledged to identify alternative sources of funding for children and families living in the Coin Street area. We hope these are not empty words and that council officers and councillors find a solution before September which keeps Coin Street open for Lambeth families” adds David.

Consultation feedback

The largest response to the consultation from across the Borough related to Coin Street. About Coin Street the report says:

The primary concern raised through comments submitted via the survey and within consultation meetings about proposals for the North Lambeth area was about proposed withdrawal of funding at Coin Street.

Coin Street children’s centre users and local stakeholders expressed concern about the withdrawal of services for Lambeth families, and the challenges of travelling to the nearest centre (Ethelred) to access services which were already oversubscribed.

Over the 240 comments online around the withdrawal for funding for Coin Street 52% of these related to the need for local centres and accessibility and 49% praised the quality and variety of services offered. Around a quarter (27%) raised the impact closure would have on children and families while, 20% asked about other sources of funding. One in five (18%) asked us to keep all centres open.

In both the online consultation responses and in the consultation meeting held at Coin Street, current and previous children’s centres users spoke about the significant impact the centre had on their lives and those of the children in the early years and as they grew to adolescence.

There were strong views expressed that the children’s centre represented the only community resources available to children and families in the immediate area, and that it was a focal point in creating local community networks.

The fact that there is significant development happening in the north of the borough was raised, with questions as to how the council was investing the funding that it received as a result. Specific questions about the use of CIL funding arose in meetings with children’s centre users and with trustees.

Many respondents online and through the meeting felt that Coin Street or their local community was being unfairly targeted by the council under the proposals, and queried the relative proximity of Henry Fawcett and Ethelred Children’s centres. Concerns were also raised about proposals at Henry Fawscett, Ethelred and St Stephens. These concerns were typically the more generalised ones outlined above rather than in relation to those individual centres, which would all remain as core centres under these proposals. However parents and children’s centre users responding did also express significant concern about the impact on families currently using Coin Street and the distance they would have to travel.

The proposals and consultation report can be found here

Find out more information about our campaign to Keep Coin Street Open for Lambeth Families here