Threat to nurs­eries lifted as union plan emerges Coun­cil halts pro­posal to off­load 14 Birm­ing­ham nurs­eries

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Carl Jack­son Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

THE threat of clo­sure for 14 Birm­ing­ham nurs­eries has been lifted for now by Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil af­ter it halted plans to off­load them.

The author­ity was set to an­nounce a pro­posal to with­draw as the provider for the fa­cil­i­ties to save £1 mil­lion a year – but they are now con­sid­er­ing an al­ter­na­tive busi­ness case put for­ward by the union GMB.

The nurs­eries are all rated ‘good’ or bet­ter by Of­sted and serve just over 400 chil­dren a week.

They also em­ploy around 70 coun­cil staff, 18 school work­ers, and 32 em­ploy­ees for ei­ther Spur­geons char­ity or South and City Col­lege.

In a draft re­port, the coun­cil ar­gued that none of the nurs­eries break even and stated there was an over­sup­ply of places in the city.

Nev­er­the­less, it in­vited ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from pri­vate, vol­un­tary and in­de­pen­dent or­gan­i­sa­tions to run the 14 in ques­tion.

Twenty six providers have come for­ward, half of those have held fur­ther talks with coun­cil of­fi­cers.

The 14 nurs­eries are Ber­tram Road, Birchfield, Cherry Tree, Golden Start, Kitts Green, Lady­wood, Lime Tree, Oak­lands Park, Park Road, Reameadow, Soho Road, St Bene­dict’s, Sum­mer­field and Sun­shine.

But any move to off­load them is now on hold while the coun­cil con­sid­ers the pro­pos­als put for­ward by child­care work­ers union, the GMB, which had gath­ered a 1,500-name pe­ti­tion against the out­sourc­ing.

Re­gional or­gan­iser Gill Ogilvie said: “We’re de­lighted that the coun­cil has seen sense and put a pause on the pri­vati­sa­tion of Birm­ing­ham’s day nurs­eries, which are a life­line for so many. Our fight to en­sure these vi­tal ser­vices are de­liv­ered in the pub­lic sec­tor is not over yet, but this is a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward.

“Now it’s time for our prac­ti­cal and sus­tain­able al­ter­na­tive plan, which has re­ceived huge sup­port from par­ents and staff, to get the proper con­sid­er­a­tion it de­serves.

“We now hope that coun­cil­lors will work with us to progress our pro­pos­als and, to­gether, much-needed com­mu­nity pro­vi­sion in Birm­ing­ham.”

The coun­cil con­firmed now con­sider GMB’s plans.

A spokes­woman said: “A re­port was due to be pre­sented to cab­i­net in Oc­to­ber out­lin­ing the pro­pos­als re­gard­ing the coun­cil-run day nurs­eries. We wanted to brief staff, unions, me­dia and par­ents so they could fully un­der­stand our po­si­tion and what it would mean for them. sup­port nurs­ery it would

“How­ever, this is a fast-mov­ing sit­u­a­tion and we con­tinue to ne­go­ti­ate with unions and staff.

“We have been of­fered an al­ter­na­tive pro­posal by the GMB union.

“It is only right that we look at this pro­posal to see whether it is a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to our cur­rent pro­posal.

“We have com­mit­ted to work with all trades unions over the next four weeks to look at the de­tail and agree a way for­ward that we can col­lec­tively sup­port.”

> An al­ter­na­tive busi­ness case has been put for­ward by the GMB to save the Birm­ing­ham nurs­eries

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