Thousands sign up in nursery battle

Nikki Hitchon hands her petition of over 2000 signatures against proposals to close several nurseries.  She is pictured with children Ellie-Rose, aged 3 and Tyler-James, aged 5.
Nikki Hitchon hands her petition of over 2000 signatures against proposals to close several nurseries. She is pictured with children Ellie-Rose, aged 3 and Tyler-James, aged 5.
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Campaigners battling to save two Blackpool nursery schools from closure have handed over a petition to town hall chiefs.

Protesters have collected 2,268 signatures from people backing the calls to keep nurseries at Grange Park and Talbot and Brunswick Sure Start Centres open.

The signatures show just how much support there is

Blackpool Council is proposing to shut the facilities in order to save £250,000 from its budget, and says there is alternative provision for parents nearby in the private sector.

Petition organiser Nikki Hitchon, 24, whose two-year-old daughter Ellie-Rose goes to the nursery at the Talbot and Brunswick Sure Start Centre on Gorton Street, said: “We have had all kinds of people signing the petition, from taxi drivers to hairdressers, and nearly every shop we asked were willing to take the petition and put our poster up.

“I think the amount of signatures we have collected in such a short time since it was announced the nurseries were closing shows just how much support there is for the campaign to keep them open.

“We are fighting not just for our communities, but for our little people as well.

“After handing in the petition, we will be carrying on with our fight.”

As well as the written signatures, a total of 1,568 online comments and expressions of support to keep the nurseries open have been received.

Among the comments made by supporters online are that the nurseries “have helped so many families”, and that “staff are brilliant”, while another person writes they have “helped all my three so much, it would be a shame to close as so many more children could benefit from the place, such friendly staff.”

Consultation is currently taking place over the proposals with campaigners due to meet Wednesday afternoon with Coun John Jones, cabinet member for children’s safeguarding and schools improvement.

Last week, Labour members of the council’s scrutiny committee voted to continue with the proposed closures after the decision was brought before councillors for discussion by Tory opposition group leader Coun Tony Williams.

The council says there are 2,400 nursery places available in Blackpool but demand for only 2,200 places meaning there is over provision.