MP vows to back book project

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THE town’s MP has pledged to fight for the future of a book giving project that helps thousands of children in 1066 Country every year.

Amber Rudd said she would throw her weight behind the Bookstart project if that is what her constituents wanted.

It gives packs of books to families with young children in deprived areas in a bid to help their babies and toddlers develop their reading skills. Last year the project provided books for 4,000 children in Hastings and St Leonards - about one in five youngsters living in the town - through nurseries, playgroups and health visitors.

There was an outcry last month when Education Secretary Michael Gove announced the scheme’s £13 million funding would be stopped - with famous children’s authors like Philip Pullman, Michael Rosen and former poet laureate Andrew Motion rounding on the Government.

But just weeks after the announcement, the Department of Education and Bookstart issued a joint statement that said they were working together to make sure the scheme could continue.

Although details of the new arrangements are not yet known, Ms Rudd said: “The funding was always meant to end this year and the last Government had not put anything in place for the future.

“I have not had the same response as I had over the changes to sport in schools but I will be speaking to people in the town and if they hugely value Bookstart then I will fight for it.”

Ms Rudd also called on constituents to make sure they make their opinions known. She said: “It is a wonderful thing being an MP because you are a lightning rod for the views from the streets up to the ministers in Westminster. People here certainly make their voices heard.”

There are free Bookstart Rhymetime sessions at Hastings Children’s Library, Robertson Passage, every Tuesday between 1.45pm and 2.15pm. For more information visit www.bookstart.org.uk or contact the library.