£6m Sure Start cuts to go ahead (in Hampshire)

A LAST-DITCH bid to force a rethink of £6million cuts to Sure Start children’s centres in Hampshire failed as the ruling Conservatives rallied to back the county council’s controversial plans.

Liberal Democrat opposition councillors called in the plans to merge a third of 81 centres and put them all out to tender in clusters for third parties to run.

The move followed a petition signed by more than 20,000 people protesting against the cost-cutting plans.

The centres provide services for young families such as health checks, play groups and family support workers.

Speaking at a scrutiny committee last Tuesday, New Forest Liberal Democrat councillor Brian Dash slammed the council for “dismantling a highly valued service.”

He said: “The council has a huge budget and we can, if we want to, find the money.

“We want the best for Hampshire’s children, not least because the early years are the most important of a child’s life.”

But Hampshire’s director of children’s services John Coughlan defended the radical overhaul, saying: “I am convinced this model works.”

He described the slimmed-down management structure as “sustainable.”

The council, which is having to tackle a £55million funding gap, aims to save £3m in head office costs and £3m from children’s centre budgets.

Mr Coughlan said: “The local authority remains responsible for the quality of provision of children’s centres. We will be accountable for what they do.”

Cllr Jackie Porter, opposition spokesman for children’s services, made a plea for schools and local charities to be able to continue to run children’s centres.

She said: “Some centres are doing an excellent job with good staff. We don’t want to lose that continuity.”

County chiefs said sub-contracting would be possible and schools would be encouraged to join together to bid to manage clusters of children’s centres.

The scrutiny committee did not have the power to overturn the plans but could have recommended changes.

Tory councillor David Drew said it was important to remember the council was still planning to spend £11m on children’s centres and there were no plans to close any of them.

Conservative councillors, who outnumber Liberal Democrats on the committee, supported the plans approved by Cllr Roy Perry, executive member for children’s services, in May. The proposal for a review was defeated by nine votes to seven.

After the meeting, Save Our Children’s Centre Hampshire campaigners said they were dismayed a last chance to make changes had been missed.

Co-founder and mum-of-two Catherine Ovenden said: “Once again, councillors seem to have voted along party lines. The plans will now go ahead and all we can do is keep a very close eye on exactly what happens on the ground.

“However, I really hope they realise the impact that their decision today could have on young lives across Hampshire. I fear that they are making a huge mistake.”

Taken from Basingstoke Gazette Tues 21st June 2011

Tax Credits

Many families with children can claim Child Tax Credit. Working Tax Credit can help you pay for childcare and top up low earnings.

There is a calculator on the HMRC website to work out how much you might get. (see link at bottom of post)


Phone Number: 0345 300 3900

Having children puts a strain on the family budget, but the government provides cash to help. This comes in the form of Child Benefit and tax credits.

Tax credits depend on your household income (usually from the previous tax year), but even families with an income up to £58,175* a year or £63,350* if they have a baby under one, are eligible for some help.

Who can get tax credits?

There are two types of tax credit – you make one claim that covers both.

Child Tax Credit is tax-free income for households with children. There is a family element that most families get and a child element payable for each child. You get extra if your child has a disability.

Working Tax Credit is tax-free income for households where you and/or partner, if you have one, work but your income is fairly low. Families with children qualify provided you or your partner work at least 16 hours a week. Working Tax Credit includes a childcare element that can provide up to £240 a week towards the cost of childcare so that you can get out to work.

You may be able to claim Working Tax Credit while on maternity or paternity leave.

You count as being in work for the first 25 weeks of ordinary maternity leave, and the first 13 weeks of any additional maternity leave. You’re also treated as being in work for the two weeks of paternity leave.

You can therefore continue to get Working Tax Credit as long as you worked at least 16 hours a week immediately before you went on leave. If you go back to work immediately after your first 39 weeks of maternity leave are over, you can continue to claim Working Tax Credit.

Any further leave (whether paid or unpaid) you take after the first 39 weeks of maternity leave or the two weeks of paternity leave doesn’t count as being in work. So you may not be able to claim or continue receiving Working Tax Credit for this period unless you have a partner who is working at least 16 hours a week.

If you are claiming Working Tax Credit and you don’t go back to work immediately after the first 39 weeks of maternity leave or the two weeks of paternity leave end, you need to let the Tax Credit Office know within 30 days. If you don’t, you may be paid too much money which you’ll have to pay back and you may have to pay a penalty.

Child Tax Credit Elements

Element Who can get it Amount*
Family All claimants with one child or more £545
Family – baby addition Extra amount where there is a child under the age of one £545
Child For each child £2,300
Disabled Child Extra for a child who is blind or getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) £2,715
Severely disabled child Extra for a child getting the highest-rate care component of DLA £1.095

Working Tax Credit elements

Element Who can get it Amount*
Basic All claimants £1,920
Couple or lone parent Claimant who has a partner or single-parent claimant £1,890
30-hour Claimant working at least 30 hours a week or their partner, if they have one, does. Couples with children can add together their working hours to reach the 30-hour threshold £790
Disabled worker Claimant or partner at disadvantage getting a job because of disability and getting certain state help £2,570
Severe Disability Claimant or partner qualifies for certain state help because of severe disablity £1,095
50+ return to work Paid for first year where claimant is aged 50 or more and is returning to work after at least six months on state help. Higher rate where claimant works at least 30 hours a week £1,320 or £1,965
Childcare Household paying childcare costs. Covers eligible costs up to £175 a week for one child or £300 a week for two or more. Must be approved childcare – for example registered childminder, nursery or after-school club. Where a couple claim, normally both must work at least 16 hours a week 80% of eligible costs

* Rates shown are for the tax year 6 April 2010 to 5 April 2011.

Taken from The Consumer Financial Education Body

Tax credit calculator: www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/questionnaires.htm

Library Membership for your child

Most Libraries in Hampshire have several shelves full of children’s books, children’s audio books, children’s DVD’s and parenting books that can be borrowed. Many also have a comfy area specifically for children where Rhyme Time sessions are held or where you can read to your child. Check out the following url which explains what is available for children in Hampshire libraries : http://www3.hants.gov.uk/library/library-children.htm

  • Membership is free!
  • In our local library lots of the books look brand new and there are many different books available for each development stage.

Children can borrow the following:

0-10 year olds can borrow Loan Period Renewable? Hire Charge Overdue charge
30 items including
children’s books up to four weeks Yes – max 5 times No charge No charge
music CDs, audio books, language packs up to four weeks Yes – max 2 times
(hire charges apply)
60p No charge
DVDs/videos, electronic games, CD-ROMs up to one week Yes – max 2 times
(hire charges apply)
£1 – £3.50 One full extra weekly hire charge
  • One of the biggest benefits is that in Hampshire there are no late return fee’s on children’s books!
  • Books can be borrowed for 4 weeks at a time before they need to be renewed again.
  • New young joiners receive a dinosaur library card with two key fobs. This allows you to add the key fob to your keys and always have your child’s card with you.
  • You can reserve and renew books online. If you are after a specific book and it isn’t available in your local library then you can go online and request the book to be sent from another library to your library for the cost of 50p per book. This is available for children and adult books and you can save a fortune using this service: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/library/using-the-library/library-renewing.htm

These details have been copied from Hantsweb,  the Hampshire Country Council website.

Pushchair Friendly Walks Near Basingstoke

Review: Alice Holt, Farnham

Great Picnic Spots near Basingstoke

Farley Mount – Winchester

  • No toilet facilities
  • Free parking
  • Has an excellent outdoor area for toddlers
  • Farm shop on the way in from Winchester or Waitrose nearby for picnic bits
  • Path’s aren’t distinct but are fairly pushchair friendly
  • See my review of Farley Mount from 2013

Basingstoke Canal – Odiham

  • Castle remains are pretty cool although you can no longer picnic inside it, have to sit outside :-(
  • Path can be quite thin in place but still should still be able to use with an off road buggy.

Frensham Little Pond/Great Pond – Near Farnham

  • Nearest sandy “beach”!

Fleet Pond – Fleet

  • Tiny sandy beach
  • picnic benches
  • jetty’s for feeding the ducks
  • entry road in is a bit hair raising!

Queen Elizabeth Country Park – Horndean

Staunton Country Park – Havant

Royal Victoria Country Park – Southampton

Other Walks

Aldermaston Common – On the road from Basingstoke to Newbury

  • Several Car Parks around the common

Hook Common – Just off Junction 5 of M3

  • Has big red cows with big horns wandering around and often horses grazing, so if have dogs need to keep control of them.

Yateley Common Country Park – Nr Yately

Newbury Race Course/Watership Down – near Kingsclere, RG28 7NJ

Micheldever Wood

Victoria Park

Medstead Forest – Near to Alton

  • Lovely in spring time when the Bluebells are out

Danebury Iron Age Hillfort – Near Andover

Baby Friendly Cafe’s near Basingstoke

Little Roses Tea Room and Gift Shop – Elm Park Garden Centre, on the road from Basingstoke to Tadley

Open from 9am to 5pm, Sunday 10am to 4.30pm

  • Lovely Little cafe with lovely people.
  • Has a baby changing unit in its disabled toilet with nappy sacks and baby wipes for you to use!
  • Sit upstairs if you have toddlers or want to sit on comfy sofa’s. Baby Changing unit upstairs as well as in Toilets
  • Lovely cakes and very reasonable placed.
  • Recommend to avoid the Valley of the Dolls shop next door. Unless you are into that kind of thing of course 😉
  • Cafe is situated at the back of the garden centre to the right and has parking next to it.
  • http://www.elmparkgardencentre.co.uk/coffee-shop

Wyevale Garden Centre – on the road from Basingstoke to Reading

  • Bit hit and miss with quality of food. Week days better than weekends
  • Join the membership scheme as it’s amazing how quickly you rack up discounts which get you money off future purchases.
  • They have a car cleaner on site, so you can have your car cleaned for a very reasonable price whilst you enjoy lunch or coffee and cake.
  • Baby Changing facilities are in the ladies

Departure Lounge Cafe – Alton

  • This cafe is next to a Garden Centre and has part of an aircraft (!!!) at the back of the cafe.
  • Was very impressed as it didn’t look much from the main road.
  • http://www.thedepartureloungecafe.co.uk/

Newlyns Farm Cafe – Hook

  • Eaten here several times but not with baby so not sure what baby facilities are like. Anyone else been here with their baby?

Swimming with Babies

Basingstoke Sports Centre – Town Centre

  • There is a small pool that is kept at 32 degrees and open between 12 and 1.30 on a week day is an open session.
  • Changing rooms are for the whole family so Dad can help out too! Baby Change fold out tables available in the large changing rooms.

Tadley Swimming Pool

Jelly Babies (for parents and children under 5 years old)

  • Tues and Thurs 11-12am
  • Wed 2.30pm – 4pm
  • Sun 9am-12pm

Queen Marys College Swimming Pool

Family Swim

  • Wed 6-7pm
  • Sat and Sun 2-4.50pm

Basingstoke Aquadrome

See a review of Basingstoke Aquadrome on NHM HERE.

Family sessions have been specifically designed for those with children. The Family sessions offer a calm and enjoyable atmosphere for young and old alike – the perfect family day out.

  • Family Swim – Sun 7-10am
  • Parent and Toddler Swim
  • From 10:30 – 20:00 Parent and Baby Beach

Hampshire Centrecourt swimming Pool

Related Pages

Basingstoke Babies

Basingstoke children aged 6 years and under

Baby Friendly Cafe’s in Basingstoke

Town Centre

Debenhams Cafe:  Town Centre

  • A microwave is available for warming baby food.
  • Baby Changing Facilities is next to the restaurant.

Cafe Nero’s: Waterstones, Town Centre

Marks and Spencer’s cafe: Town Centre

Out of Town

Sainsbury’s Cafe: Hatch Warren

  • Week days are better than weekends for quality of food.
  • Free Nappies are available in the Baby Changing Room but you have to ask for them.
  • Menu displays calorie content of everything!

The Parlour Team room: Viables Craft Centre, Harrow Way, RG22 4BJ

  • Closed on Monday’s
  • Open 9.30am to 5pm Tues-Sat.
  • Fantastic selection of homemade cakes and cupcakes. If feeling hungry recommend the Farmers tea.
  • Alison’s wonderland is a shop attached to the tea shop and has quirky gifts and cards for unique presents.

Morrisons Cafe: Brookvale

Asda Cafe: Brighton Hill

The Dome Cafe: Brighton Hill

Walks in Basingstoke

Carpenters Down

  • Parking is next to Pebbles Children’s Centre
  • Used to be National Trust Land
  • Big Hill to Climb to get into most walks
  • Excellent Blackberry picking

Basingstoke Common

Otherside of Crabtree


Eastrop Park

Blackdam Pond

  • Has a play area for children
  • Nice pond to feed the ducks and swans
  • Has a short walk around the park but connects through to Crabtree

Baby and Children Friendly Restaurants in Basingstoke

11. Places to Breakfast “out” with Children in North Hampshire

8 “Cheap” Restaurants in Basingstoke (Meal for 2 for under £15)

5 Places for Sunday lunch, with Children, in North Hampshire

9 Foody Places to go as a group of Mums with babies/toddlers

Early Bird Meals with children


Giraffe – Town Centre

  • Check vouchercloud.com for discounts before going

Zizzi’s – Top of Town Centre

  • Check vouchercloud.com for discounts before going

Wagamamas – Town Centre

  • Baby Changing facilities are available in the Disabled toilet
  • Seating is on benches and generally not comfortable for breastfeeding
  • Fast and healthy food
  • If you sit at the tables near the entrance, there is enough parking for pushchairs next to the tables at the back
  • If you are pressed for time (evening feeds, etc.) you can check out your local Wagamama’s menu on the iPhone or iPad Wagamama application or check online in advance. The Mobile Applications allow you to place your order so it is ready when you arrive. You can also order takeaway using this option.
  • Excellent air con, so if it’s hot outside, this is a great place to be!

Pizza Express – Town Centre


Pizza Express – South Ham

  • Baby Changing facilities in Disabled toilets, with cover for babies to lie on
  • Children’s menu available
  • Parking in car park is very small. Alternative parking is available at the football ground which is 3 mins walk away, however, you will need your pushchair as it’s too far to carry the car seat from.
  • Dyson hand dryers (it’s the little things that count!)
  • Very friendly people who like babies!
  • Check vouchercloud.com for discounts before going

Pizza Hut – Same shopping area as Toys R Us

The Harvester – South Ham

  • Tables aren’t big enough for Pushchairs
  • Nappy Bin smelt horrible
  • Menu shows the calorie content of each item

Mcdonalds Drive through – Same shopping area as Toys R Us

  • If you’re feeling more slummy mummy than yummy mummy and can’t be bothered to mobilise the army, this is a very quick place to get lunch