Protests gather over plans to close nurseries

Shiremoor Children's Centre'Picture Jane Coltman
Shiremoor Children's Centre'Picture Jane Coltman

A petition against plans to close four council-run nurseries in North Tyneside is gathering momentum.

Under the proposals, North Tyneside Council will close the nurseries and transfer two more to schools as part of a review of childcare services.

Wallsend and Shiremoor nurseries would close by September 2016, while Riverside and Oaktrees nurseries, in North Shields, would close the following September.

Elsewhere, Battle Hill Nursery would be transferred to Battle Hill Primary School and Denbigh Nursery transferred to Denbigh Community Primary School by July this year.

But parents have hit out at the plans.

Anna Brown, whose daughter attends one of the nurseries, said: “The council’s argument is the discrepancies between private sector and the council.

“They do have higher running costs. But Newcastle City Council has five nurseries and they aren’t looking to close those.

“Parents at the affected nurseries have been ringing around private nurseries but they are finding they don’t have space or don’t open early or late enough.

“It’s a big deal for those involved.”

A petition has been launched to have the item debated in a full council meeting.

Anna said: “We’re looking to get 2,000 signatures to have this debated as a sole item by council.

“We already have more than 1,300 signatures.”

To sign the petition visit https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-north-tyneside-nurseries

A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said: “The council is reviewing childcare provision to make sure all children get the best possible start to life, whilst also making sure we focus the council’s resources on the children in greatest need.

“Due to government cuts, the council must save over £53m over the next three years and the six council-owned nurseries currently cost £1.24m a year to run.

“Childcare in the borough has changed in recent years and schools are playing an increasing role in delivering nursery care, as well as more and more independent childcare providers choosing to open here – meaning we now have a vibrant, diverse and high-quality childcare sector.

“This strong network of school nurseries, daycare nurseries, childminders and playgroups will ensure the council continues to meet its duty to ensure there are sufficient childcare places available.

“These are still proposals and we would really encourage people to give us their views via our online consultation at www.northtyneside.gov.uk.

“The council will not make any final decision until March 2016.”