Wednesday 9 November 2011

Brent Nursery Closures Will Force Us To Pay Double

From Today's Evening Standard

Parents today told of their fears for affordable childcare if plans to close two council-run nurseries go ahead.
They claim that hundreds of children could be left without nursery places. 

Parents at Treetops Children's Centre in Willesden said they were given eight weeks to come up with a business plan to run the nursery from March - or face paying more than twice as much for private childcare.
Treetops has about 50 children on its books and 100 on a waiting list. Also set to shut is Harmony Centre in Neasden. 

Brent council said it was consulting on closing the centres because of "huge" government funding cuts. It claimed the nurseries are predicted to make a total loss of more than £250,000 for 2011/12. 

The council is also consulting on a further nursery, Willow, which could be restructured, taking children with disabilities and some children with special needs.

Parents in the borough say that many of them, especially single mothers, will be forced to give up jobs and go on to benefits because of a shortage of affordable nursery places. While Treetops costs £33 a day, other local nurseries are said to cost up to £70.

Charlotte Sones, whose one-year-old daughter Margot attends Treetops, is leading a campaign to save the centre. Mrs Sones, a 39-year-old writer and telesales worker from Harlesden, said: "I feel sick to my stomach about it, it's keeping me awake at night. 

"One, because the council have forced a group of parents into the position of having to save a nursery, and two, having the trauma of potentially having to move a child who has been there since she was seven months old." Charlotte Schilcher, an event manager from Harlesden, has two children, Alfie, six, and Betsy, one, who have both attended Treetops. 

She said: "Parents are really worried and nervous about the future and their children. These are the things that are directly affecting families in this area." Parents have until December 14 to submit plans to run Treetops, which is set to close on March 23rd. 

Brent council's head of early years and integrated services, Sue Gates, said: "We can't afford to carry on as we are now. There's lots of alternative childcare provision locally so families shouldn't face any problem finding a suitable place for their child and, if these proposals are agreed, we will help them to make alternative arrangements."

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