I am delighted to hear that the Labour Party have decided to abandon their plans to withdraw the Council subsidy from the Nursery in Wellholme Park.
Removing this subsidy would have effectively closed the Nursery – a decision which would have had an absolutely devastating impact upon the many children and parents who rely upon the Nursery and the excellent care that it provides.
Wellholme Nursery is a fantastic facility and it is great news that it will be able to continue to provide its specialist care for local children. However, as welcome as this decision is, serious questions need to be asked about why such a disastrous policy was ever pursued. The decision to remove the subsidy was made on the basis that not enough users of the nursery lived in areas of deprivation – it did not consider the individual circumstances of children, or the ability of parents to pay, but was rather based on a fundamentally flawed and arbitrary method.
Many parents felt that the basis on which the decision was taken was wrong and was in fact biased against nurseries from outside of Halifax. Whilst the Council has to make tough decisions in the current climate, we have to ensure that these are both fair and just – a proposal which sought to balance the Council’s budget at the expense of children was neither.
Questions also need to be asked about why the Council continues to target front line services such as these when so much non-essential expenditure remains untouched. This U-turn from the Labour Party has been a result of the organised and persistent campaign by parents from Brighouse. Parents have refused to accept this decision and have consistently asked questions at Council meetings highlighting the flaws of this decision.
Their campaign has appeared on the regional news and the community has rallied around to collect thousands of signatures against these plans. Rather than seeing the error of their ways, the Labour Party has been forced into abandoning its plans by the strength of feeling shown within our community.
I was also interested to hear of the apparent ‘delight’ of Brighouse Cllr Ann Martin at this decision. It is just a pity that she felt unable to question this proposal at the time and to support local parents on our campaigning effort to protect the Nursery over the last few months. The services that nurseries provide will be examined by the Council over the next few months in an effort to improve efficiency. Whilst I welcome this review, it is important that the voices of parents and staff are now listened to and that a service is created which reflects their needs.
Coun Scott Benton