Nurseries in Tower Hamlets under threat

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Four council-run nurseries in the London borough of Tower Hamlets are at risk of closure.

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Parents are campaigning to save the nurseries from possible closure

Tower Hamlets Council is considering shutting Queen Mary Day Nursery and the nursery at Overland Children’s Centre in Bow, along with Mary Sambrook Day Nursery in Wapping and the nursery at John Smith Children’s Centre in Shadwell, in a bid to save £100 million in 2015.

The settings provide specialist support for children with special education needs and disabilities, as well as affordable childcare for lone parents and those on low incomes.

The proposals are outlined in the council’s ‘Your Borough, Your Voice’ consultation, which closed last month.

Tower Hamlets Council is expected to make a decision in March 2015.

In an effort to save the nurseries from closure, parents have launched a campaign against the proposed cuts.

A petition started by the campaign group ‘Save our Nurseries’ has received more than 460 signatures.

One signatory said, ‘Tower Hamlets’ nurseries and staff are a golden resource for children and families with the greatest of need. 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.’

This week, parents also staged a protest outside Tower Hamlets Town Hall.

Supporting the campaign is the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rishanara Ali, and MP for Poplar and Canning Town, Jim Fitzpatrick, who have written a joint letter to Tower Hamlets Council’s corporate director. Parents also have the backing of the union Unison.

In the letter the MPs said, ‘Closing these nurseries will have a potentially devastating impact on families most in need.

‘We have met with the mothers who are frequent users of these services and they have spoken highly of the nurseries and the support they have received from them.

‘Our constituents have expressed anxiety about the proposed cuts, which will inevitably have the highest impact on their children-many of whom have special educational needs and health issues that require specialist care.’

A council spokesperson said, 'We are proud of the standard of our early years provision and we remain committed to ensuring that all children have access to excellent childcare in the borough.

'The early years savings proposals will be reviewed at the December cabinet meeting taking into account feedback from residents and stakeholders and an equality impact assessment.

'Public sector cuts mean that we like all other local authorities have to make significant savings. So far, we have managed the impact of Government funding reductions, but we will have to make difficult decisions in the near future.'

 

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