David Cameron’s mother Mary has said she is “very sad” that the children’s centre where she works is to close.
Mrs Cameron, 81, who previously signed a petition against plans to shut 44 children’s centres in her son’s constituency of Whitney, Oxfordshire, spoke out after West Berkshire Council confirmed that Chieveley and Area Children’s Centre in Berkshire would close at the end of the month.
Confirming she volunteered at the centre, she told the Daily Mirror: "I am very sad that it is being closed down but if there’s not enough money to pay for it things have to go.
“I enjoy it very much and have been going there for a year and drive families around occasionally.
“I don’t really know what can be done really as I’ve just heard about it. If it closes down, then I shan’t be volunteering because there will be no one to volunteer for.
“If it keeps going at all, I will obviously go on helping if I can.”
She said she had not asked the Prime Minister about the centre closures because “I don’t interfere”. However she told the Mirror’s reporter: “If you can do anything to help it would be great.”
The centre, which is being closed to help West Berkshire Council save £300,000, caters for about 670 children under five. It provides free courses such as first aid training for babies, general childcare and healthy eating advice.
Mother-of-two Gael Williams, of nearby Hermitage, said: “So many parents use the centre. It will be a huge shame for it to close. A lot of the families at the nearby Army barracks in Hermitage use it and I don’t know what they’d do without it.
“The council may well have plans to change the venues of the sessions offered here but it will be a long drive for many to get elsewhere and some parents don’t even drive so they will be stuck.”
Shadow Education Secretary Lucy Powell said: “Children’s centres have a fantastic track record of supporting parents and families in those important first few weeks and months as a family.
“David Cameron has said time and again how important parenthood is to him personally and helping families yet his policy of closing down and starving children’s centres of funds flies in the face of those ambitions.”
David Cameron's biggest controversies
David Cameron's biggest controversies
A book released by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft alleged that an MP and Oxford contemporary of David Cameron had allegedly seen a photograph of Mr Cameron performing a sex act on a pig while at university. Downing Street did not comment on the allegations and the peer said they could have been a case of mistaken identity
David Hartley/REX Shutterstock
2/8 ‘Swarm’ of migrants
In July 2015 David Cameron referred to refugees coming into Europe from the Middle East and North Africa as a “swarm”. He was criticised for using the language, which critics said was dehumanising
3/8 Child tax credits
In April 2015 David Cameron was asked whether he’d cut child tax credits. “No, I don’t want to do that,” he said, saying that he rejected reports that he would. Shortly after the election the Government unveiled cuts to child tax credits
4/8 Cycling to work
As leader of the opposition David Cameron was regularly photographed cycling to work. In early 2006 he was photographed cycling but with a driver in a car carrying his belongings. It was suggested at the time the cycling was just for show and that having two vehicles on the road instead of one was wasteful
5/8 Andy Coulson
David Cameron employed former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as government communications director from 2010. After stepping down from the post due to coverage of the phone hacking affairs, Mr Coulson was later found guilty of conspiracy to intercept voicemails. He served a short prison sentence
6/8 His personal windmill
Early in his leadership of the Conservative David Cameron made an effort to change the party’s image by making eco-friendly gesures. As one of these gestures, the future PM put a wind turbine on his house. However, the turbine later had to be removed after neighbours condemned it as an eyesore and the council’s planning committee said it had been put in the wrong place
7/8 Funeral selfie
David Cameron was pictured posing for a ‘selfie’ with Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Some in the press criticised the prime minister for showing in an inappropriately low level of respect for the gravity of the occasion
8/8 Eating a hotdog with a knife and fork
The Prime Minister was pictured eating a hotdog with a knife and fork in the run up to the 2015 general election. He was accused of being “posh”. “I had a very privileged upbringing... I've never tried to hide that,” he said
West Berkshire Council confirmed the closure of the centre.
“We will not be able to provide all of the universal services that we currently do and some may cease,” it said.
“We will maintain popular sessions but will not be able to provide these for free. This may mean some families cannot afford the sessions they use.
“We will stop using four children’s centres, but our services will still be available in community locations.
“This means services will be available in local communities and some families will have less distance to travel.
“However, for others the services may be at a different location, which may be less convenient for them.”Reuse content