People power saves nursery from the axe
THE CHILDREN’S CENTRE
A NURSERY has been saved from closure in a dramatic U-turn by council bosses.
Parents and staff were in uproar when town hall chiefs in Bolton announced plans to shut Harvey Nursery in a bid to save cash.
The proposals sparked a backlash among parents, staff and union members, who said the children’s centre was the last councilrun nursery in the town.
Campaigners planned a march to Bolton town hall to lobby councillors ahead of a full council meeting. But their protest became a victory march after the council decided to scrap the closure plans three days before the consultation period came to an end.
Deputy council leader Linda Thomas said: “There has been a real strength of feeling around Harvey Nursery and we have listened carefully to the views expressed during consultation.
“We said this would be a consultation, where nothing was off the table, and unless anything else significant comes up before the end of consultation, we believe we have now identified a solution.
“We are taking the unusual step of announcing what we think our final decision will be before the formal end of consultation to give assurance to the children and families at Harvey.”
The council was proposing to axe 14 jobs, which would have left 60 children in need of a new nursery place.
The children’s centre serves one of the most deprived areas of the town and is also home to other family services.
The nursery was said to have an annual deficit of almost £68,000, which council bosses claimed would increase each year it stayed open. Coun Thomas added: “The council has decided to continue to operate the nursery. “There will be a staged move to increasing income generated from fees and from consumables in order to reduce the current level of subsidy which the council provides. “The council has been able to take this decision as a result of savings made from increased rates of recycling in Bolton.” Parents and staff welcomed the move. Bernadette Gallagher, Bolton branch secretary for Unison, said: “This is an absolutely fantastic victory for all the parents, staff and campaigners who have worked tirelessly since the announcement was made to close Harvey Nursery. It shows that campaigning can make a change.” Coun Linda Thomas, deputy council leader