Kilburn Grange parents campaign to keep nursery open
Council considers closing four nurseries in £600,000 saving
26 February, 2020 — By Helen Chapman
PARENTS and carers have swung behind the campaign to save council-run nurseries from closure. Camden is discussing closing services in Gospel Oak, Somers Town and Highgate Newtown, as well as Kilburn Grange nursery in the north-west of the borough.
Campaigner and parent Eddie Hanson said: “Kilburn Grange nursery is a vital asset to the local community which has helped many families. Not just the children who have attended the nursery but the dedicated staff, some of whom have been there for over 10 years and are simply wonderful at what they do.” A petition launched by parents online has so far gathered 300 signatures to save the nursery which has undergone a revamp of the building since last year.
The New Journal has previously reported on protests against the potential closures at the Hampden Nursery in Somers Town and the Konstam Nursery in Highgate.
Parent Karen Averies said: “There is a great diversity in Kilburn Grange nursery and a wonderful mix of mainstream and SEN children. So many children have thrived in this setting including my three-year-old son and it is one of few affordable nurseries in the local area. “It would be simply terrible and unfair to see this outstanding nursery be shut down.”
Camden want to make £600,000 worth of savings from its early years budget and say the number of three- and four-year-olds in Camden has decreased. The Town Hall shake-up could see nurseries repurposed as “Sure Start” centres which focus on services for children under two. The falling number of children in Camden has also had a squeeze on primary schools.
Meanwhile at Gospel Oak nursery, parents stormed out of a meeting with education chief Councillor Angela Mason to discuss concerns with the way a consultation survey is being run.
Hayley Pape, a mother of a three-year-old at the nursery, said after the meeting: “I find the whole idea of turning the nursery into a mother and baby unit a waste of effort. They made it clear that the birth rates have fallen in Camden within the last few years, so why bother turning this into a new stay-and-play centre? Surely if birth rates have fallen, there are less babies, so why would this new idea be effective?”
Two nurseries closed last year – one which was part of St Aloysius School which also was also shut down and the Somers Town Community Nursery – after a fall in enrolments.
Cllr Mason said: “Our preferred option, as set out in the consultation for our early years services, is that in the future four of our council-run nurseries become Sure Start children’s centres, therefore ensuring that we do not close any buildings that the nurseries are currently located in.”
“These would offer a range of early years and family support services which would include health visiting services, anti-natal classes, language and speech development, benefits advice, as well as new services to tackle more complex issues such as child obesity. “We recognise that parents value our existing services, and if these proposals are implemented, we will try and ensure that existing children continue at their nurseries until these changes come into place.”