Closure of Brighton nursery shelved for now

Posted On 01 Feb 2023 at 9:36 pm

The council has shelved a proposal to close a Brighton nursery just days before a protest and rally that has been planned by parents, staff and supporters.

Bright Start nursery has been given a reprieve as members of Brighton and Hove City Council prepare to set a budget for the 2023-24 financial year.

But the reprieve may turn out to be temporary until the current cohort of children are ready to start primary school.

The nursery, at the Old Slipper Baths, in Barrack Yard, North Road, was listed for closure to save £104,000 in Brighton and Hove City Council’s draft budget published in December.

But in budget papers published this evening (Wednesday 1 February), the £104,000 figure has been omitted.

More than 1,600 people signed a petition on the website aimed at saving the nursery which yards from the Prince Regent swimming pool in Brighton.

And those campaigning to keep the nursery open have planned a protest for next weekend. They said: “Join us with your children for a march against cuts to our kids. Please meet in the square to the south of St Peter’s Church at 1.45pm on Saturday 4 February.”

They plan to set off on the march at 2pm, heading through the North Laine and The Lanes and ending at Brighton Town Hall.

According to the council’s budget report in December, the nursery building required “significant” work – potentially costing more than £500,000 – and there were 42 other nurseries within two miles.

Bright Start has places for 50 children from three months to four years old and employs 15 staff. The education watchdog Ofsted rated the nursery good with outstanding features just before Christmas.

At a meeting a few weeks earlier, Green councillor Hannah Allbrooke, the deputy leader of the council, said that she did not stand for election to make the “awful decisions” that the council faced.

She said: “My vision is rather than closing nurseries, we keep them open and we keep them flourishing.”

One of the protests held outside Hove Town Hall over the past few months about the proposed closure of Bright Start

In the new year, parents of children at Bright Start sent a memo to councillors casting doubt on the way that building works had been costed.

The memo also said that the nearest comparable premises would cost almost £60 a week more yet a quarter of the Bright Start families were in the poorest 10 per cent of the country’s population.

They said that parents of children with SEND had been turned away by other nurseries, adding: “Numerous ‘early years’ settings have closed, reduced services or drastically increased prices – severely limiting the options for the most vulnerable families.”

And if Bright Start were to be closed, they said, the council could end up having to provide other support for the families affected, in effect making it a false economy.

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