Over 1000 people have signed a ‘Save Our Nurseries’ campaign petition organised by parents in Tower Hamlets, in response to planned cut-backs in nursery provision.
Tower Hamlets is proposing the closure of four public nurseries in the borough, including nurseries for disabled children. All of the nurseries provide affordable childcare to children with lone parents and parents on low to medium incomes.
Some of the nurseries in danger of being shut down have been providing childcare by well-trained staff for over 30 years. The care is provided more cheaply than private sector nurseries.
Emma Adams, a mother of three, is one of the parents behind the campaign. She has a son with autism and other special needs. Adams says that her son attended Queen Mary’s, one of the public nurseries, where he got all the help he needed.
Adams said: “When he started at Queens Mary’s he couldn’t say mum or dad, and now he speaks fluently, thanks to the staff at the nursery.”
She doesn’t think children with special needs will get the same help if the public nurseries get shut down.
The staff at the nurseries may lose their jobs and the children are not guaranteed a place in another nursery.
Adams added: “The children may has to stay home because they have no place to go to.”
The proposal came after a £100 million council saving. The council says that the government cuts forced them to make hard choices about which services to deliver for their residents.
The ‘Save Our Nurseries’ campaign were informed about the proposal in mid September and say that they have tried to open a dialog with the mayor without success, adding they were only offered a one hour consultation.
A spokesperson said: “We were told that in fact they did not need to consult us. Our children are affected; we felt this was an insult.”
The campaigners have decided to seek help from council wards and MPs, one of which is Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Canning Town.
Fitzpatrick said: “The lack of consultation is unfair on everyone on the back of these cuts, especially the children.”
A final decision will be made in March 2015.