Parents’ hopes of u-turn on nursery closure 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.”

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