Brentwood library bosses cutting back on time for rhyme
WEEKLY nursery rhyme sing-along sessions at Brentwood library have been axed to cut costs, sparking anger from the town's mums and dads.
Parents are upset that Essex County Council has decided to change the frequency of the New Road library's Saturday morning Daddy Cool sessions from weekly to monthly to save money
Now a group of mums and dads have clubbed together to start a campaign to raise awareness of the decision in a bid to make library bosses at County Hall change their minds.
Dentist Eva Rodriguez, 36, who lives in New Road, is one of those who started the campaign.
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Dr Rodriguez, who lives with her husband Uriel, 36, and her 21-month-old daughter Paloma, told the Gazette: "I was devastated when I found out that the sessions were cutting down drastically.
"Being full-time working parents does not leave us many opportunities to enjoy family activities."
Dr Rodriguez, a Spanish national who is expecting her second child on Christmas Eve, added: "The regular attendance to these sessions is crucial as repetition is the key to be able to enjoy the benefits of nursery rhymes fully."
Another parent who is unhappy with the council's decision is banker Andrew Bayley, 34, of Alpha Road, Hutton.
Mr Bayley, who attends the Daddy Cool sessions with his wife Annie, 34, his 21 month-old daughter Louise and his three-month-old son William, said: "The sessions are good fun and I enjoy them myself.
"I would definitely like the council to reconsider this decision because once it goes it will be very hard to get it back."
Dr Rodriguez said that on average 25 people – a mixture of children, mums, dads, grandparents and carers – would attend each Daddy Cool session.
She added that she has written to MP Eric Pickles, borough council leader Louise McKinlay and Brentwood councillors Mike Le Surf and Cheralyn Lewis to ask them to help fight the decision.
Mr Le Surf, the borough council's Labour group leader who represents Brentwood South, said: "We have received so many calls from local residents about the cuts to the Saturday morning group that we had to act to try and save it.
"Cuts to services, especially around libraries are a completely false economy.
"They break down the structures of our local community and make it harder for people to support each other locally."
The next Daddy Cool session will take place at the library between 10.30am and 11am on Saturday, September 8.
Jeremy Lucas, the council's cabinet member for customer service, environment and culture said: "Essex Libraries are reviewing the events and activities carried out by its staff to ensure that the service remains in budget, allows some flexibility to meet the needs of customers and allows us to keep our libraries open despite economic constraints.
"In Brentwood, we will be continuing to offer Rhyme Times sessions twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays and Daddy Cool sessions, which dads too are particularly invited to attend once a month on a Saturday."