All nurseries will now face council scrutiny

THE council has withdrawn a detailed list of potential nursery closures.

But it expects to begin consulting later this year on the possible “phased closure” of any Children’s Centre nursery which fails to meet specific criteria.

The aim remains to cut staffing costs by more than £1 million and could lead to the loss of up to 63 jobs.

The original Lib-Lab budget proposal was “to close day care” in children’s centres at Wellholme Park, Brighouse, Field Lane, Rastrick, New Road, Sowerby Bridge, Elland and Todmorden.

The council now says that the list was published by mistake and the actual proposal is “to cease to maintain” day care in children’s centres which are undersubscribed and struggling to sustain provision.

There are 19 Children’s Centres in Calderdale which were set up to help children and families in the most deprived communities.

As well as nursery places, centres also provide accommodation and support for child minders and parent groups, antenatal clinics, job and training advisers.

But in some areas there are schools and privately run nurseries which could provide day care which does not require council subsidies of up to £4,000 per child.

Calderdale Council’s children and young people’s services director Stuart Smith said analysis was underway.

“Only when we have this detailed information will we be able to identify those centres which meet the criteria and we can commence public consultation.”

The council’s spokesman for education and lifelong learning, Coun Ashley Evans, said: “There are no proposals or intentions to close any Children Centres, they do important and wonderful work.

“What we are reviewing is a few of the nurseries that are part of these centres.

“It seems that some may be in places where there is already an over supply and that because we subsidise our places by up to £4,000 per child this is making the private providers living very difficult in a recession.”

Councillor Evans (Lib-Dem, Warley) said the council would consult on the phased closure of any nursery in an area where there is oversupply and some of the children are not among the 30 per cent most deprived.

“If agreed we will do a feasibility study to identify which nurseries meet the criteria and then consult with all of those who may be affected.”