Published: 17:50, 10 November 2017
A nursery school in Chatham will close before Christmas leaving families only weeks to find a suitable replacement.
Medway Council has commenced formal closure proceedings at All Saints Nursery in Magpie Hall Road, Chatham - in the middle of the school year.
It comes after they decided to shut down six Sure Start children’s centres.
Parents were told on Tuesday that they will have to find new nursery places for their children immediately as the centre will close for the final time next month.
They have been told a local primary school may be in a position to reopen the nursery at some point in the future, however the closure will go ahead regardless, before any firm interim plan can be put in place.
Labour members are displeased with the decision and say ward councillors were not forewarned.
Two Labour councillors met with some of the parents this afternoon to listen to their concerns about the proposal and hear about their campaign to keep the nursery open.
Cllr Vince Maple, ward councillor for Chatham Central and Medway Labour Leader, said: “It is unacceptable that my ward colleagues and I should have had the news about these cuts to nursery services broken to us by worried parents.
“We are now urgently seeking clarity about exactly what is being proposed, so that we can begin to understand the detailed rationale for closure if indeed there is one.
“We would also like to know what options have been explored in terms of working with schools to maintain the service.
“We also ask that discussions are extended over a sufficient period of time to find a way forward which is good for the children and acceptable to service users.”
These further cuts have been presented as part of the “transformation” of children’s services in Medway – which Labour say has so far resulted in the closure of six Sure Start centres and the downgrading of nine others to part-time status.
Cllr Adam Price, Medway Labour spokesman for Children and Young People said: “I am very concerned to hear that Medway Council are planning to close the outstanding and very popular nursery at All Saints Children’s Centre in Chatham.
“The Labour Group will be pressing for this nursery to be kept as part of the All Saints “super hub” Children’s Centre.
“Failing that I hope the council can work with All Saints primary school to transfer the nursery there in order to maintain access to early years education for local residents.“
Cllr Andrew Mackness, Conservative spokesman and Portfolio Holder for Children's Services said: "It is with regret that, despite efforts to secure the continuation of service provision at All Saints nursery, we have taken the difficult decision to notify parents and staff of the risk of closure.
"Medway Council has notified parents at the earliest possible date to allow families to make informed decisions about their children’s future care. Our priority is to now assist parents and children during this transition, and I would like to assure families that we continue to work hard to secure alternative childcare places."
Tramways nursery in Chatham, which is less than a mile away from All Saints, was also in danger of closure.
Cllr Mackness continued: I am pleased that discussions relating to a similar risk of closure at Tramways nursery have been successful. This has meant Medway Council has already been able to reassure parents that their children will continue to receive nursery care."
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