Parents to have say against plan over nurseries

Parents protesting at plans to close six council-run nurseries are to outline their case to councillors.

Thursday, 4th February 2016, 07:40 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd February 2016, 13:04 pm
Shiremoor Children's Centre Picture Jane Coltman

More than 3,000 people signed a petition against proposals by North Tyneside Council to close Wallsend and Shiremoor children’s centres and transfer Battle Hill and Denbigh childcare, in Wallsend, to two primary schools, potentially from September.

And there is further concerns over the future of Oaktrees and Riverside Childcare in North Shields from September 2017.

After securing 3,000 signatures, the parents will outline their case at a full council meeting tonight (Thursday).

Parents, who among their concerns say there are no places in other nurseries to take their children, are hoping councillors will reconsider the plans.

David Baker, whose son attends a nursery in Wallsend, said: “Lots of nurseries don’t accommodate the under threes and this leaves working families with big potential problems.

“We hope that we can persuade the council to consider ways to keep the nurseries open.”

Jane Garbutt, who uses the holiday club at Riverside in North Shields, said: “Riverside has an out of school and holiday club that is a life line to us as a working family, especially during the school holidays.”

The council, looking to save £16m in their 2016/17 budget, are looking to change the way childcare services are provided in the future.

The six non-statutory daycare nursery settings cost the council £1.12m a year, and authority officials say children at Battle Hill and Denbigh will attend as they do now while parents and carers at Wallsend and Shiremoor will be supported to find alternative childcare.

Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “Local authorities do not have a statutory duty to directly provide childcare. Our duty is to ensure that there is sufficient provision in the borough.

“Childcare in the borough has changed in recent years and schools are now playing an increasing role in delivering formal childcare in nursery settings, with extremely successful recent examples in both Killingworth and Wideopen.

“More and more independent childcare providers are also choosing to open here – meaning we now have a vibrant, diverse, flexible and high-quality formal childcare sector to meet the needs of parents and carers.

“Our proposals will still ensure that all of our children across the borough continue to have access to the best possible quality of childcare as part of our priority to give everyone the best possible start in life.”

She added: “These are still proposals. The council will not make any final decision until March.”