An­gry par­ents blast plan to close kids’ play­groups

Jobs at risk as fund­ing with­drawn

Evening Express (Extra Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jen­nifer McKier­nan

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.