Protesters plead with Lutfur Rahman: “Save our nurseries”


Protestors outside Tower Hamlets council building. Pic: Gabriela Sperling

Councillors have demanded Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, scrap controversial plans to close four nurseries after angry protests from parents last night.

The council meeting vote followed tearful pleas from mothers who said the closure would be outrageous, as closing the nurseries would add growing pressure to other public services such as mental health facilities and the NHS.

The parents of children who attend the four threatened nurseries – Queen Mary, John Smith, Mary Sambrook and Overland – staged a placard waving protest outside the meeting.

Delegation leader Alicja Topij said: “Public nurseries provide an excellent service… we understand the council does have money in reserve, therefore they can make changes.”

“It’s not a government decision whether you close a nursery or keep it open. More than 230 families will be affected by this proposal. We all pay council tax and want the services to be kept open.”

The proposals to close the nurseries were floated as part of the councils public consultation “Your Borough, Your Voice”, which closed last month.

The “Save our Nurseries” campaign, which started on September 26, has gathered sympathy from the community, receiving more than 480 signatures in a recent petition.

The efforts were rewarded earlier this month when, in the wake of the overwhelming objections, the Council officially decided to revise the proposal.

A mayoral spokesperson said the cuts could save £100 million, and while aware that the nurseries are “held in high esteem by families using their day care provision’’, the government would have to “make difficult decisions in the near future”.

They added: “All feedback about the Local Authority Day Nurseries is still being considered by Cabinet… The staff and the parents with children in the nurseries will be the first to be informed once a decision is made and can be made public.”

Yesterday’s council meeting addressed the matter in an emergency motion, which passed with a majority of Labour votes. During the meeting, MPs were accused by Conservative councillors of using the motion for political propaganda.

Councillor Danny Hassel, author of the motion, appeared on social media:

Last night’s vote is not binding but will put added pressure on the Mayor to rescind.

Tower Hamlets Council will review the proposal during in December.

By Gabriela Sperling

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