Proposals to close down four local nurseries in Tower Hamlets have been overturned by the mayor as a result of weeks of campaigning by local parents and MPs.
On Wednesday, Mayor Lutfur Rahman announced a reversal on his proposals to close the nurseries following a campaign that began in September. The “Save Our Nurseries” campaign held a recent petition that garnered over 500 signatures.
Last week, Labour spokesperson for schools in Tower Hamlets, councillor Danny Hassell, brought forward an emergency motion at Full Council, calling for Rahman to reverse his proposed nursery closures.
The motion was passed with a majority of Labour votes, although some Conservative councillors accused MPs of using the motion for “political propaganda”.
Tower Hamlets council agreed to review the proposals. Consequently the four nurseries – Queen Mary Day Nursery, Overland Day Nursery, Mary Sambrook Day Nursery and John Smith Day Nursery – are to be removed from the savings proposals that will be put to the Full Council.
Councillor Hassel said in a statement: “Nurseries are a vital frontline service for children and their families, so I’m very pleased that Mayor Rahman has reversed his decision to close all council-run nurseries in the borough.”
“The parents who have been campaigning against this vicious cut have run a very strong campaign and they should be very proud of their work. The Labour Group will continue to support them and their families as we move forward.”
Leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group, councillor Rachael Saunders, said: “When Lutfur Rahman tabled his cuts proposals, we were very clear that the cuts to children’s services could not be allowed to stand.”
“The Save Our Nurseries campaign, led by local mums, has done a brilliant job of demonstrating to us all why these nurseries are so important. With 49% of [Tower Hamlets] children living in poverty, the support that these nurseries give is vital.”
She also said that the “work was not yet done,” as the group intends to continue opposing proposed cuts to other local services, including social care and children’s centres.
We know that these cuts have been imposed by government; Lutfur Rahman has a responsibility to keep his promises to protect the front line.”
Facebook user Catherine P. wrote on the petition’s Facebook page: “The local children’s centres are of huge benefit to my son, who has some additional needs. Our local children’s centres are immensely supportive and offer my son a wonderful environment with skilled staff to nurture his development… The thought of cuts to children’s centres is terrible.”
“Centres are essential, a profound investment in our children’s present and future and invaluable for mums who might otherwise be stuck in our flats wondering what to do.”
Another supporter, Anna L, said: “Tower Hamlets public nurseries and staff are a golden resource for children and families with the greatest of needs. I know this as a local GP for 30 years and a resident. Inequalities are huge in the borough, the proposed cuts would add to them and we would lose an irreplaceable resource.”