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Monday 18 November 2002
Letter: Play Centres Closures

As one of the speakers at last month's Slough Council Play Centre scrutiny committee meeting, I was invited to discuss Britwell Play Centre with Muriel Gilmour, Labour councillor and SBC Commissioner for (among other things) the Play Centres.

On Friday 15th I met her and Beth Morgan (SBC employee who works as the Labour councillors political assistant) at the Town Hall. I was accompanied by Julie Grimes and Paula Murphy (Britwell parish councillor). The meeting lasted two hours.

Beth Morgan controlled the meeting and seemed more knowledgeable than Cllr Gilmour.

  1. Despite repeated attempts by me, the Labour ladies refused to give me any costings for Britwell Play Centre. Their excuse was the figures had not yet been separated from the combined figures. They refused to say when I might get that information - not even a wild guess.
  2. In councillors questions (number 54 of 15 October 2002) Cllr Rajinder Sandu told Cllr Sean Wright the total costs for Britwell was £102,331. Cllr Gilmour now says the costs are £95,000 of which £17,000 are overheads including rates. Written SBC budget figures show the actual expenditure in 2000-2001 was £81,217.
  3. The council estimate the cost of providing play centres is between £10 and £15 per child per session with an average cost of £12.
  4. Cllr Gilmour said Britwell "parents need to show they want to keep the play centre open".
  5. The council are having individual meetings with small groups of parents at the play centres and not one general meeting in case people get rowdy or upset. They don't want a public meeting.
  6. Cllr Gilmour said they have "no plans" for Britwell play centre.
  7. Cllr Gilmour said Britwell, unlike other parts of Slough, has an abundance of buildings including the parish hall, the Boys Club (Youth & Community Service), NHS Health Clinic, Beechwood secondary school which is scheduled for re-furbishment and Claycotts primary school where a small nursery facility is going to be built. She mentioned saving on overheads by combining the Play Centre with activities in other buildings:-

    1. Parish hall = impossible.
    2. NHS Health Clinic = impossible
    3. Boys Club (Youth Club) = impossible
    Several times she said this and my impression was the council has selling plans for the current play centre site. She also repeatedly said the parish council has lots of money.

    Later she emphasised using another building for any successor to the play centre.
  8. Beth Morgan said this was THE BEGINNING of the consultation phrase.
  9. They (Beth Morgan & Cllr Muriel Gilmour) refused to say when the results of the Britwell consultation form (see below) would be available and again refused to agree to me seeing the results.
  10. Someone (Christine Howel) is joining the council on 1st December to work on the consultation process.
  11. After school clubs to be increased to £7.50 per child per session.
  12. Cllr Gilmour said "The play centres had failed" but did not elaborate.
  13. Cllr Gilmour said they welcome proposals with vision.
Paul Janik

Slough Borough Council's Play Centre consultation form

-- name & address

1. which play centre does your child use?

2. are you prepared to pay £15 per child per session?

3. if not, how much? £3, £4, £5, £6, £7, £8, £9, £10, Dont want to pay

4. any comments?

 

Note : These forms can be taken away by parents and filled-in later. There is no deadline for the return of the forms.