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#YourVoice James Berry MP: Vital debate on Early Years education

James Giles

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The debate will take place in Westminster Hall at 9.30am on Tuesday 12 July – it is 
open to the public and will be live streamed on www.parliamentlive.tv/Commons  
 
James Berry writes: 
 
We sometimes think of education as starting only at primary school or once children have 
reached their fourth or fifth birthdays, but this is far from the case. Even the very youngest 
children are learning all the time and a growing body of research shows that this early 
learning is vitally important. 
Early education and childcare have been longstanding priorities of mine because of the 
important role they play in children’s life chances. 
Unless children start school with the building blocks of learning, particularly early language 
development, they may struggle to pay attention in the classroom, follow lessons, interact 
with their classmates and develop key skills like reading and maths. The research shows that 
children who start behind, stay behind. 
Roughly nine in every ten three and four year olds currently attend some sort of childcare 
each week and I am proud that the government has passed legislation to double the amount of 
free child care working parents can claim from 15 to 30 hours each week. Indeed this was a 
policy launched right in the heart of my constituency at the Advantage Children’s Day Care 
Nursery in Tolworth. 
But whilst an additional 15 hours free childcare will be an enormous help to parents in 
Kingston and across the country, we must use this opportunity to look at what actually goes 
into this childcare. We need to make sure that early years education really does get our 
children ready to have the best possible start at school and prevents any child from falling 
behind. 
Compared to the national average, children in the Kingston borough perform well in speech 
and language development at age five, thanks in part to the excellent teaching and SLT 
services here. However, the poorest children are almost twice as likely to fall behind and are 
already around a year behind their better-off peers by the time they reach this age. 
The implications for a child who fails to master basic language skills are clear. It is little 
surprise that those children who start behind tend to stay behind, leading to limited chances 
of success throughout their lives at school and fewer opportunities beyond. 
I want to ensure that all children in Kingston have the chance to fulfil their full potential, 
whatever their parents’ circumstances. That is why I have called a debate in Westminster 
Hall, together with a cross-party group of MPs, to look at what we can do to make these 
objectives a reality.  

James Giles is the Editor of the Kingston Enquirer, covering local news and events in Kingston, New Malden, Surbiton, Tolworth and Chessington.

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Kingston Town

Lib Dems in CHAOS after 2000 sign petition on parking charges… but refuse to back down

James Giles

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Kingston Lib Dems are in chaos after refusing to back down on controversial changes to parking permits in the borough, instead announcing an amended scheme which has been blasted by residents as ‘hap-dash and ill-thought-out’.

The proposals would have resulted in a 350% hike in the cost of a parking permit for some residents in the borough, whilst newly purchased Teslas would get to park for free.

Instead, amended proposals announced today mean that cars will, this year, face a cost of up to £245, up from the current £90, but down from the proposed £465.

In a press release explaining the rationale for the latest amendment, Councillor Hilary Gander said: “I believe that differential parking is one measure that will go towards achieving [cleaner air in Kingston].

“It seems, however, we may have moved too fast and not fully explained our approach.”

The ruling Lib Dem administration has, refused to rule out increasing the charges again next year, and have not announced how they are plugging the £525,000 gap this will leave in their budget for this financial year.

New Malden resident Angie, who lives in Queens Road, said: “It’s clear to me from what the Lib Dems have written that they fully intend to increase permit costs again next year – it’s not a case of ‘moving too fast’, it’s a case of these charges being discriminatory and unfair.

“How on earth can the Council practically halve these figures on a whim. It just proves that this is not really about tackling the issue of air quality, it’s about making a quick buck.”

Campaigners who set up a group to attempt to halt these proposals say that this latest amendment will not reduce local opposition to the plans, and are urging residents affected to attend Full Council at the Guildhall next Wednesday, starting at 7:30pm, where they have forced the Council to debate the issue by raising a community motion.

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