Axe falls on nurseries to dismay of protesters

Protesters march to Blackpool town hall to demonstrate against proposals to close Sure Start nurseries
Protesters march to Blackpool town hall to demonstrate against proposals to close Sure Start nurseries
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Town hall chiefs have confirmed two Blackpool nurseries will close despite a campaign to save them.

The decision means council-run childcare at Grange Park and Talbot and Brunswick Sure Start centres will end on August 31 with the loss of 26 jobs, in a move which will save £250,000.

Angry parents held protest marches against the proposals and collected 2,268 signatures from people calling for a change of heart.

But the council said ithad considered all the options but could not keep the nurseries open.

Cabinet secretary Coun Graham Cain said: “Since the nursery consultation was launched, we have received many representations from various parties, including parents, who are clearly passionate about the service.

“We understand their frustrations and therefore explored every option to try and keep the service open.

“That included engaging with the private sector to offer them the opportunity to run the nurseries. Unfortunately, the proposals we received from them were not financially viable and could not be progressed.

“We therefore come back to our original problem of needing to save a significant amount of money from our children’s services budget and the reality that we cannot duplicate services the private sector are providing adequately.

“Every single comment and petition has been deliberated over and this has not been an easy decision, but ultimately, we have had to make the tough choice to close the nurseries.

“I appreciate this will be an unpopular decision but it is a result of Government cutting our budgets. Year after year, we have protected the nurseries from the cuts but unfortunately we have now reached a breaking point where it is no longer possible.

“I want to be absolutely clear however that this decision just affects the nursery and crèche provision.

“The two children’s centres will remain open and the many services and classes they run will carry on as normal and we will do our very best to protect them and keep them open.”

Mum-of-two Nikki Hitchon, who spearheaded the campaign to prevent the closures, said she was devastated.

She said: “I think the council had already made its mind up, but everyone is very upset by the decision.

“I don’t know where my three-year-old Ellie-Rose will go to nursery in September.

“This has really knocked me back a lot.”