Campaign to save Calderdale nurseries hots up

Parents protesting proposed closure of Wellholme Park Childrens Centre nursery in Brighouse.
Parents protesting proposed closure of Wellholme Park Childrens Centre nursery in Brighouse.

Parents and children who fear their nursery will close were today calling on councillors to stop playing Scrooge.

The nursery at Wellholme Park Children’s Centre, in Brighouse, is one of six in Calderdale which is under threat due to new subsidy rules.

Earlier, parents in Brighouse put brightly coloured ribbons on the nursery gates and railings and attached a banner.

Today a group of more than 50 dressed as Santas and collected stars with Christmas wishes pleading for the council to keep their nursery open.

One of the organisers Helen Fulcher said: “We have got to keep this in the public eye. Parents have got to get on board and let their councillors know what it means for them. I have had people telling me that they can’t work if the nursery closes.Helen’s son David attends the nursery and she said they already collected more than 1,000 names on petitions in shops at Bailiff Bridge, Hipperholme and Brighouse.

Fiona Woodrow, whose four-year-old son, Caleb, attends the nursery said it was fantastic place and something well worth fighting for for future generations.

Councillor Scott Benton (Con, Brighouse) said that if the council wanted to save money it should stop subsiding trades union officials.

Consultation continues until February with staff and parents on the future of Wellholme and the other nurseries at Field Lane, Rastrick, Todmorden, Siddal, Elland and New Road in Sowerby Bridge.

Calderdale Council is considering whether it can continue to afford to subsidise day care in areas that aren’t of high deprivation which presently costs between £4,107 and £5,910 per full time place.

The total bill is in the region of £1 million and if the subsidy is withdrawn at least 60 jobs in Sure Start nurseries could be axed.

A council spokesperson said: “We have to target resources on those who are in most need and a large proportion of any money saved will be sued to support Calderdale’s most vulnerable young families.

“If the consultation results in withdrawal of subsidy those affected will be given six months notice to allow them to make alternative arrangements.”

The council says it is committed to keeping the children’s centres open and the other services which they provide will not be affected.