Par­ents may be forced to quit work if coun­cil closes nurs­eries

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Zoe Cham­ber­lain Staff Reporter

PAR­ENTS fear they may be forced to quit their jobs if Birm­ing­ham’s coun­cil-run nurs­eries close.

For many, the nurs­eries pro­vide a vi­tal com­mu­nity sup­port, of­ten in the most de­prived ar­eas of the city.

Fam­i­lies united out­side the Coun­cil House in Vic­to­ria Square re­cently to protest about the pos­si­ble clo­sures.

Umair Kha­tri and his wife Azreen Ab­duller work hard to sup­port their fam­ily and fear one of them may have to leave their job to look after their chil­dren if their lo­cal nurs­ery closes.

Their two-year-old daugh­ter goes to Lime Tree Nurs­ery in Handsworth and their five-yearold went there un­til she be­gan school.

“We’ve been go­ing to Lime Tree Nurs­ery for four years,” said Mr Kha­tri, who works as a tax ad­viser for an ac­coun­tancy firm. Azreen works as a part-time teacher and for Cri­sis home­less char­ity.

“The ser­vice they pro­vide there is out­stand­ing. If it closes, we will have no pro­vi­sion, so where will we send our daugh­ter?

“It will im­pact us re­ally badly. One of us might have to stop work­ing to cover child­care. If they are plan­ning for peo­ple to stop work­ing and keep chil­dren at home, how is that mak­ing Bri­tain bet­ter?”

The cou­ple, from Perry Barr, have re­searched other lo­cal nurs­eries and feel un­happy about send­ing their daugh­ter there.

There are just 14 coun­cil-run nurs­eries left in Birm­ing­ham and they tend to be used by low­in­come fam­i­lies who have no al­ter­na­tive but to use the free sub­sidised pro­vi­sion.

Joanne She­mans helps to care for her grand­son Ja­cob, three, while his sin­gle dad goes to work and univer­sity. Ja­cob was un­able to at­tend his near­est nurs­ery – Reameadow Com­mu­nity Day Nurs­ery in Stirch­ley – be­cause it was over­sub­scribed. “That shows how in de­mand th­ese coun­cil-run nurs­eries are,” said Ms She­mans, from Selly Oak.

“We’ve had to go to a pri­vate nurs­ery nearby. But if that one be­comes over­sub­scribed or it closes, I don’t know what we’ll do be­cause the next clos­est is a drive away and we don’t drive.”

A coun­cil spokes­woman said: “We don’t want to close our coun­cil-run nurs­eries, but un­for­tu­nately we can’t af­ford to keep them run­ning at a loss in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial cli­mate.

“We un­der­stand par­ents’ con­cerns, but we would re­as­sure them that there are nurs­eries run by the vol­un­tary and pri­vate sec­tor across Birm­ing­ham, and they won’t pay any more.

“There are around 700 nurs­eries across the city regis­tered to pro­vide early ed­u­ca­tion en­ti­tle­ment of 30 hours per week free nurs­ery care.

> Joanne She­mans and grand­son Ja­cob, protest­ing out­side the coun­cil house

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