CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Stop these callous closures

14 February, 2020

Councillor Angela Mason 

• I AM a distressed and angry great grandparent who attended a belated “consultation” event with Councillor Angela Mason at Gospel Oak Nursery, which is under threat of closure, or “repurposing” as Camden Council prefers to call it.

I was astonished by her “I sometimes wonder if the Pied Piper of Hamelin has been at work in Camden, spiriting our children away” the same day as our meeting (Forum, February 4).

Cllr Mason claims that she “rejected” a recommendation to close four maintained nurseries and writes of her “personal regrets” that “a working class community might bear the brunt of these challenges” (in relation to the closure of Carlton School).

Whereas, at the meeting with us, she patronisingly told parents that they were wrong to be concerned that their children with complex needs could be uprooted from the outstanding setting at Gospel Oak Nursery where diverse children are integrated, cared for and play together, to be resettled in a primary school nursery where such care does not exist.

The claim that the nurseries are not closing is disingenuous. The council’s proposals to plug the schools’ funding gap by disrupting the lives of our under-fives is cruel and uncaring.

Along with her officials at the consultation, Cllr Mason had no concrete offer of alternative “like-for-like” places and parents had to point out that the suggestions she made involved nurseries that they knew from first-hand experience were already full.

On November 13 last, Cllr Mason told her colleagues on the children, schools and families scrutiny committee that she “did not anticipate any impact on disadvantaged children”. Yet her report to the scrutiny committee acknowledges the high number of SEND children attending the four nurseries under threat.

Parents will be expressing the full details of how these changes will impact their children’s lives elsewhere in the New Journal over the coming weeks. Please support our campaign to stop these callous nursery closures.

DIANE LANGFORD
Pilgrims Lane, NW3

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