14 November 2002
Slough Council Cheats Parents

Britwell resident Paul Janik is calling for an inquiry into statements made by Play Centre Commissioner Cllr Muriel Gilmore at public meetings after leaked figures, from Slough Borough Council, suggest the public may have been denied full details.

Cllr Gilmore told angry parents that Slough's Play Centres catered for only 1,000 local children and the costs were £500,000.

At last month's scrutiny committee meeting Mr Janik revealed the actual costs were £394,000 and over £100,000 was being spent on two Town Hall administrators. None of the councillors present contradicted these figures.

A leaked internal memo from SBC's Department of Learning and Cultural Services to the Leader of the Council's office states:

Each playcentre has approximately 150-200 registered members, but are limited to the number they can take in on any one evening by Ofsted standards relating to the numbers or staff on duty

we don't employ enough part-time staff to satisfy the demand.

Total attendance in the last quarter were under 8 year olds 3,330, 8 to 12 year olds 6,318.

This summer's average daily attendance for the combined five centres were weekdays 200 children, weekends and school holidays 580 children. These figures would have been higher if staff were available.

After school clubs are less successful than we had hoped, three for only 65 children - paying and NOR funded.

Mr Janik is backing calls for voluntary groups to take over the management and running of the Play Centres in Slough's most deprived areas of Britwell, Chalvey and Manor Park.

He said:

"Play Centres provide a supervised and safe place where children can meet their friends, play, gain social skills, do different activities, learn things and go on trips. They keep children out of harm and away from drugs, crimes and far worse as you will have read in national newspapers".

Mr Janik added:

"Why are Slough's children being punished for the financial mess at the Town Hall?"

The council could save millions of pounds by cutting out waste within their overgrown bureaucracy.

Children are this country's future. The council should be investing in this valuable resource instead of kicking them out on to the streets this Christmas.