Axe to fall on nursery
Walsall’s last remaining council-funded childcare service is to be closed as the cash-strapped authority looks to save money.
Members of Walsall Council’s cabinet unanimously agreed to cease subsidising Stanley’s Nursery in Birchills Street at a meeting on Wednesday.
A report said there was a budget shortfall of £70,000 and Tim Wilson, portfolio holder for children’s services, said keeping the facility open for the whole of 2020/21 would cost £138,000.
He added there was no statutory duty for the council to continue funding Stanley’s and added efforts to find a third party to take over it had proved unsuccessful.
Closure means a total of 23 staff including cleaners and care-taking teams will be made redundant.
During a consultation, worried parents said closing the nursery – rated ‘good’ by Ofsted – would unsettle their children. Some added they could be forced to give up work in order to stay at home to look after toddlers.
Councillor Wilson said: “A lot of work has taken place to find a third party organisation to take over the provision of Stanley’s Nursery but for several reasons a positive conclusion was not reached.
“Subsequently, a consultation was started on March 2 this year giving four options. The consultation was paused on March 23 due to Covid-19 and resumed on May 12 and finally closed on May 27 and I’d like to thank those who contributed.
“The total number of days the consultation was open was much longer than original timescale to ensure we captured all the feedback.
“Out of the current 105 cohort of children attending, 48 children will be leaving this month to start a nursery school or primary school in September.
“Those 48 children have a transition plan in place and work in ongoing with the new setting in preparation.
“The parents and carers of the remaining 57 children will be provided with a detailed personal transition plan along with a dedicated support package to secure alternative provision.
“The provision of childcare by a local authority is not a statutory requirement.
“Local authorities are responsible for ensuring there are sufficient childcare places across the borough to meet the demand. We have done this and concluded there are sufficient places.”
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