Young mothers with babies and toddlers, grandparents and trade unionists demanded entry into the council chamber in Cambridge on Tuesday of last week.
They were protesting against the closure of children’s centres across Cambridgeshire. The cuts will slash £900,000 from centres and reduce provision from 40 centres to ten.
After some argument members of the public were allowed access. Questions from the public emphasised the crucial role that children’s centres play in supporting parents of preschool children.
One head teacher said the centres are a “lifeline to mothers who rely on the support they offer to deal with post-natal depression, various health problems and poverty”.
A parent who had organised a petition of more than 4,000 signatures against the closures explained what a lifesaver her local children’s centre had been to her in dealing with the isolation she felt after giving birth.
She said, “Without the friendly faces and practical support I don’t know how I would have coped. My heart breaks for the thousands of people that will be affected by these closures.”
Her words prompted a spontaneous standing ovation.
Labour councillors spoke of the effect that these closures will have on the rights of all children to be protected against disadvantage because of poverty.
Tory councillors’ excuses for the closures were met with angry shouts and heckles.
Even though parents were struggling to entertain toddlers and babies in the chamber, they stayed for more than two hours. Many hoped that the protests would continue.