The Brighton nursery facing closure is thrown a lifeline

Posted On 16 Dec 2010 at 10:25 pm

Bright Start Nursery was thrown a lifeline this evening.

The North Laine nursery is threatened with closure as Brighton and Hove City Council tries to save money.

The council currently subsidises the nursery to the tune of £87,000 a year.

But this evening the three opposition parties joined forces at a raucous full council meeting to look at other options than closure.

The Greens, Labour and the Liberal Democrats outvoted the depleted Conservative ranks but not before council leader Mary Mears said that the current consultation would be extended.

Councillor Mears did not say when the consultation would end but she said that she would consider an approach by parents or staff to take over the nursery.

She said that this was the sort of approach being encouraged by the government’s Localism Bill.

She described the subsidy as unfair to parents with children at other unsubsidised nurseries.

Councillor Lizzie Deane, making her maiden speech, said: “Parents have offered to pay more if it means keeping their children at Bright Start.

“They have put forward a viable case for keeping Bright Start open.

“Brighton is undergoing a baby boom”

She said that the need for nursery places would grow rather than shrink.

And fellow Green, Pete West, said: “As a workplace nursery, it’s an investment in staff productivity.

“When you add in redundancy and redeployment costs, this is going to be a costly, painful and entirely unnecessary disaster.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Elgood said that Bright Start was “one of the jewels in the crown of our services”.

And Labour councillor Pat Hawkes, who formally opened the nursery as mayor, made an impassioned plea to keep it open.

The opposition parties urged the Conservatives to set up a working group to explore the plans put forward by parents and staff.

A report is expected to go to Councillor Vanessa Brown, the cabinet member for children and young people, on Monday 17 January.

Dozens of parents, staff and supporters packed the public gallery and an overspill room where the meeting was screened. Some of them spoke and presented a petition of 12,000 names.

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