Angry parents blast plan to close kids’ playgroups
Jobs at risk as funding withdrawn
FURIOUS parents today hit out at council bosses after it emerged playgroups are to close.
About 100 staff jobs are now under threat as council cash is withdrawn from 17 playgroups across Aberdeenshire.
And furious parents warned they feared they would lose their free playgroup places by refusing to send their children to school-run groups miles from their homes.
Aberdeenshire Council can no longer afford to fund all its playgroups, head of service Rod Stone told councillors on the scrutiny and audit committee.
He said: “From August this year the priority will be to place as many children as possible in nurseries attached to schools.
“That means we will need fewer playgroups.”
Nine playgroups will close this summer and eight more next year.
The groups closing this summer will be Clunymill Bank in Alford, Linden Centre in Huntly, Garioch Centre in Inverurie and playgroups at community centres in Ellon, Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Portlethen, Stonehaven and Westhill.
Mr Stone said support had been offered to help playgroups go private but had not been taken up.
But Jill Graham, chairwoman of Ellon Community Centre Playgroup, said: “We were told that even if we set up the greatest playgroup in the world we would not be given any commissioned places for it.”
She said the council had informed them i t wo u l d b e unable to offer any funding for free places and parents would have to fill and finance the groups themselves.
Jill, whose daughters Emily, 4, Ailsa, 3, and Lucy, 2, have attended playgroup, said: “Unless parents started paying, we wouldn’t get any kids.”
Ellon grandmother Rosaline Hendry runs dance classes for youngsters and said some of her pupils went to the Ellon playgroup. She said: “We know cuts have to be made but I think this is too savage.”
Unite union’s North-east representative Tommy Campbell said: “We’re very disappointed because of the impact this will have on childcare.”
The council has to cut £56 million from its budget.