Parents facing ‘hollowed-out’ half-term of council activities

Week off: parents seeking inexpensive activities for their children in half-term are likely to be disappointed

When Jason “It’s going to get worse before it gets better” Perry referred to the “hollowed-out council” that he took charge of last May, the Tory Mayor must have had in mind the borough’s library service, which has been run into the ground over 13 years of Tory government austerity.

Only three of Croydon’s 13 public libraries are staging events for the borough’s children this week, during the annual February half-term. And at one of those, there’s just a single activity session: to “make a frisbee”.

Discount charges for swimming sessions for under-16s – just £1 – are available at some of the council-owned leisure centres, but only before 10am each day.

Details of other council-backed events, including providing essential out-of-school activities and lunches, were only released by Croydon Council on Friday, just as the borough’s schools were breaking up for the week off.

The listings in that council press release have more of a look of being “hollowed out”, too. For the cash-strapped council, where Perry, the borough’s £81,000 per year Mayor, promises only “minimal” services, out-of-school provision for children of working parents is one of the first things to be axed. And this week provides a demonstration of exactly that.

“The council’s youth engagement team will be running activity sessions, starting on Wednesday February 15 at the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Centre, South Norwood, followed on Thursday February 16 at the Fieldway Centre, New Addington, and returning to South Norwood on Friday February 17.”

So that’s three sessions all week, at two centres.

Potentially great if you are a working parent in South Norwood or New Addington (at least for a day or two). Not so great if you live in Selhurst, Norbury or Thornton Heath, Coulsdon, Waddon or Purley.

“Each day will run from 10am until 4pm and will feature a range of activities including music production, dance, arts and crafts and sports.

“Young people need to be registered with the youth engagement team to take part in the activities.” Registration is done via an online form.

Short measures: some of Croydon’s public libraries, such as Coulsdon, are closed more often than they are open. Even in the school holidays

The hollowed-out council outlined its other meagre offerings: “Throughout half-term, the borough’s leisure centres will also be running morning sessions where under-16s can ‘swim for a quid’ when accompanied by an adult at participating pools before 10am.”

The council’s leisure centre contractors, Better, have a page to find available activities here.

The activities at the borough’s once proud and vibrant libraries are free, do not require any pre-booking, and are “for all ages”.

Croydon Central Library
Storytime – Ages 2-5, Monday 13 February 3-3.30pm
Valentine’s Day craft – Ages 5-11, Monday 13 February 4-5.30pm
STEM Science – Ages 5-9 Wednesday 15 February 3-4.30pm

New Addington Library
Make a frisbee – Ages 5+, Thursday 16 February

Selsdon Library
Rhymetime – Under 5s, Wednesday 15 February 10.30am
Oi Frog and Friends stories and crafts – Wednesday 15 February 4pm
Storytime – Under 7s, Saturday 18 February 10.30am
Marble Mazes – Ages 5+, Saturday 18 February 10.30am

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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