Parents’ hopes of nursery u-turn dashed

COUNCILLORS have backed a decison to shut a Batley nursery – but criticised the fact that parents were not informed sooner.

Kirklees Council’s children and young people’s services scrutiny panel met to review the closure of Batley Central Daycare on Park Road.

The Batley Town Hall meeting on Tuesday was triggered after an outcry from parents over the effect on their children.

Panel members, including Coun Hanif Mayet (Lab, Batley East), agreed that the nursery should shut by August.

But their verdict added: “There should have been an earlier conversation with unions, parents and staff about the proposals.

“This would have allowed for appropriate assurance to be given that high-quality alternative provision is available.”

It followed complaints from parents that they were only told late last month, even though the decision was made in January.

Coun Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) was among six councillors who ‘called in’ the decision for scrutiny.

She said: “It’s accepted that Batley is an area of high deprivation and relatively low educational attainment in Kirklees.

“Early years education is important in helping children achieve as well as those in other areas. It will be harder to do that if another service is removed.”

Joint cabinet members for children and young people’s services Coun Cath Harris and Coun Peter O’Neill (Lab, Batley West) were quizzed.

Officials, including director of services for children and adults Alison O’Sullivan, also appeared at the hearing.

Coun Harris said new government legislation made councils a provider of nurseries “only as a last resort”.

Authorities now have a duty to ensure there are enough private sector places and offer their own only where there are gaps in provision.

She added: “Within half a mile there are six other providers, all rated good by Ofsted, and who all have spare places.

“Our main duty now is to ensure there is a sufficient supply of places in the market. Our other guidelines have been removed.”

A DISGUSTED parent has slammed the lack of consultation over plans to axe the Batley Central Daycare Centre.

Nathan Wright, whose three-year-old daughter Gemma attends the council-run nursery on Park Road, attended Tuesday’s scrutiny panel hearing.

He also took a swipe at officials for organising the Batley Town Hall session to start at 10am, meaning most parents could not attend.

Mr Wright, speaking on their behalf, said: “I’m sure you’ll understand that many other parents would have liked to be here.

“But they have to work or have other commitments or simply find this kind of setting daunting.”

Shift worker Mr Wright, who works as a supplier to the NHS, said parents were only given in-depth details of the closure proposal on April 22.

He said: “The final decision was to be taken by the council cabinet in Huddersfield just three days later, on April 25.

“This was only one week after the initial announcement. The only parents’ meeting was on May 1, which was after the decision had been taken.

“What parents would have liked to have happened is for a review of the nursery’s situation to have been announced in January.”

Mr Wright added that parents initially heard about the closure through a text message sent by Batley Central manager Claire Ewart.

He said: “Parents were able to pull together a hurried response, which was read out at the cabinet meeting.

“But there were no real answers to our questions or protests, or indeed any indication that they had been any more than noted.”

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