Politicians betray Ballymac Playzone

The Ballymacarrett Playzone Centre is an after-schools service in East Belfast that provides children with programmes including picking them up from school, helping them with homework, healthy eating and PE.  

The centre is a vital service in enabling parents to work. It currently provides affordable childcare at a rate of £1.50 per child per day. T he Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister has only offered a three-month emergency package after the Department of Health cut funding to the project. At a packed public meeting held in September to save the centre, it was the view of the local community that the cuts need to be stopped.

A committee was established at the meeting to develop a plan and build the campaign. But this committee has been dominated by politicians from the parties in power in Stormont who voted through cuts which have led to funding being withdrawn from the centre.

Instead of coming up with a strategy to build a campaign against the cuts in funding, the politicians have concentrated on putting together a “self-sustainability plan” which would mean introducing a 300% hikes in charges for parents who use the service from £1.50 a day to £5 a day / £100 a month.

UUP MLA “Sir” Reg Empey is one of the politicians arguing for this approach and is using the issue to have an opportunistic go off the other Assembly parties, even though it was his colleague Health Minister Michael McGimpsey who withdrew the funding! In a statement he pushed this idea stating “It is ludicrous that Playzone are not being given the same opportunity as the other clubs to put together a business model that will see them move towards self-sustainability.”

The Socialist Party is completely opposed to this approach; this is not fighting the cut in funding but just finding another way of introducing the cut. The Assembly parties on the committee are in reality asking working people to accept the withdrawal in funding from the Assembly Executive and fund the centre out of their own pockets. It is simply making working class families pay more due to their cuts.

Ballymacarrett is one of the most deprived communities in Western Europe. People simply cannot afford to spend £100 a month on childcare. The local community has been hit hard recently with the closure of Beechfield Primary school and Ballymacarrett Library nearby. It is also anti-democratic of the Assembly parties to sidetrack the campaign, ensuring there is no effective campaign through mobilising the local community to fight the cuts. The campaign to save the Ballymac Playzone Centre must be democratically controlled and run by the local community and the workers who face losing their jobs. In the run-up to elections next May, all the parties in the Executive should be put under intense pressure to guarantee permanent funding for this essential service.

 

Total
0
Shares
Previous Article

Open letter to Conor Murphy on job losses at Translink

Next Article

Government of millionaires attack benefits

Related Posts

Stop sectarian attacks

Sectarian attacks have once again hit the headlines in Lurgan after bloody clashes broke out in January between Catholic and Protestant young people aged between 14 and 18 years old.

Socialist Party calls for nationalisation of energy companies

Press Release - 10th September 2008

‘If the Government can spend billions bailing out the banks, they can bail out hard-pressed families by taking control of the energy sector’ – Peter Hadden

The Socialist Party has called on the Government to nationalise Phoenix Gas and Northern Ireland Electricity in response to “the completely unjustifiable price increases, which are solely designed to protect the profits of these monopolies.”

Is “human nature” a barrier to socialism?

The world is a mess. War, poverty, and oppression are now part of the daily lives of billions round the globe. Even during the last boom 80% of the world’s population – 5.4 billion people – lived on less than $10 a day. Now that the world is in the midst of this crisis even the head of the World Bank has said it will result in “a human and developmental calamity… the number of chronically hungry people is expected to climb over 1 billion this year”. The wars in the middle east, enviromental destruction and worsening economic turmoil are only the most recent striking examples of the crises facing humanity.