Framework sections highlighted: Action, Change, Power

Gautby Road Campaign

26th May 2015

When their local play scheme was threatened with cuts, local residents came together to put a stop to them.

During September 2014, when community organisers from Wirral were door knocking in Birkenhead, all that people wanted to talk about was the closure of the council funded Gautby Road Community Centre – which was at risk of losing its funding.  The centre offered a Play Scheme for children aged 5-15 on a daily basis, doing things like arts, crafts, dance, sports, trips, and much more.

With support from the community organisers, a group formed called ‘Save our Play Service’, which was made up of busy mums who wanted to find the time to fight for the play scheme.

Together, the group found and contacted the people in charge of the council’s consultations on the cuts, and – after a waiting for quite a long time – they managed to get and distribute a big stack of consultation forms so local people could have their say.

By this point, the members of ‘Save our Play Service’ were very angry and unhappy with how hard it had been to access the consultation, and how difficult it was to understand and complete the forms!

They decided to hold a residents’ meeting to support people who wanted to complete consultation forms, and to start a petition.

The Save Our Services campaign group

In advance of the meeting, one of the community organisers worked with the group to re-write the consultation, so people could understand what the council were actually proposing; replacing the paragraphs of confusing information with a simple sentence or two explaining what the cuts would mean in the area.

Following this, the residents regularly attended constituency meetings, and, every time the cuts were discussed, they made sure the councillors and MPs talked about the plans in an accessible and understandable manner – calling them out in the meetings when they didn’t!

The residents’ work on the consultation meant over 1,000 people completed a form, and over 4,000 people signed the petition.  This was a record breaking response to any of Wirral Council’s consultations.

In November 2014, ‘Save our Play Service’ found out the campaign had been a success!  The Play Scheme is still open, and still fully funded for the use of local children and their families.

In addition, the next consultation that Wirral Council undertook included sessions where residents could go and get support filling in the forms.  As one campaigner said: “Actually, we think they might have listened to us!”


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