Nursery campaigners march on Westminster

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A group of campaigners will visit Parliament today to highlight the fight to save five local authority nurseries in Salford.

salford-nurseries-protest

A recent protest against the closure of five Salford nurseries

A coach of over 40 campaigners from Salford, including parents, workers, councillors and the city mayor, Paul Dennett, has travelled to London to participate in a programme of events with Salford MPs Rebecca Long-Bailey, Barbara Keeley and Graham Stringer.

The group will hold a meeting with MPs in the Palace of Westminster from 1pm to 3pm, and hopes to pose a question on the issue at this afternoon’s Prime Minister’s Questions.

Salford faces the closure of five nurseries, all rated outstanding by Ofsted, in what the council says is a ‘direct result’ of government changes to the use of the Dedicated Schools Grant.

The council has said while it pays £3m a year to run Little Hulton Day Nursery, Winton Day Nursery, Barton Moss Day Nursery, Belvedere Day Nursery and Higher Broughton Day Nursery, it only receives £1.5m in income from charges.

More than 300 places and 100 jobs are set to be lost as a result of the closures.

Salford Unison branch secretary Steven North said, ‘It would be great to see as many MPs at the meeting as possible so they can hear more about cuts to nurseries and find out how they can help support vital early years provision.

‘Our aim is to rally support from MPs to demand the funding needed to deliver the outstanding early years support that our communities deserve – be that in Salford, Birmingham, Cambridge, Bradford, or anywhere else faced with these cuts.

‘This is not just an issue for Salford. We know that there are many other areas around the country facing a similar threat because of changes to the funding arrangements.’

Following a public rally in March of around 1,000 people, including shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, Salford City Council announced funding to keep the nurseries open until July 2019, and a consultation set to run from February to May was paused to allow the council, trade unions, MPs and parents and staff to lobby the government for funding to keep the nurseries open.

The consultation was later reopened, and is now set to run until 25 June 2018.

An online petition to save the nurseries has so far received 6,229 signatures.

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