Advertiser letters: Nursery closures and air pollution

Cllr Danny Hassell says nursery closures are due to government cuts. Picture: THC

Cllr Danny Hassell says nursery closures are due to government cuts. Picture: THC - Credit: LBTH

Letters, contributions and comments sent in to the Advertiser this week.

Cuts caused the closures

Cllr Danny Hassell, cabinet member for Children, Schools and Young People, writes:

In response to the letter ‘Anger on nursery closures’.

The council is feeling the impact of nearly a decade of government austerity. Our core funding from government is £148million (64 per cent) less compared with 2010 and we have to save another £44m over the next three years.

Schools in the borough are also facing a real squeeze on their spending, and they decided they could no longer afford to support the Local Authority Day Nurseries (LADN).

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The council faced a choice of either cutting £1.66m per year from other frontline council services to cover this funding gap. We wanted to consider the bigger picture for parents in the borough.

There are around 7,000 under five places in the borough and these three nurseries provided about 100 places at a cost of £15,000 per child compared to an average of £1,700. The funding challenges we face can mean challenging and changing services which only deliver for a small number of people, and we wanted to invest our limited funding more fairly.

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We consulted on the decision to close these three nurseries and it received full scrutiny from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.The children at the three nurseries will be found places at nearby nurseries and specialist services will be developed at an ‘Outstanding’ nursery school for deaf children. We continue to provide places at six nursery schools.

Eastenders want to better themselves and they want the best for their children, and we want to harness that for all our children in the borough.

Our new budget proposals will invest £500,000 for additional early years education, double the size of our holiday childcare scheme and invest £1m in a social care academy.

All of which will have greater impact for a greater number of families than the day nurseries.

Labour’s pledge nationally for an extension of the government’s 30 hours of free childcare offer to parents of all two, three and four year olds would represent a real shift towards a proper childcare offer. However until we have a Labour government, local councils are on the frontline having to find innovative solutions to childcare.

Dangerous levels of air pollution in Tower Hamlets

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, writes:

Air pollution is one of the biggest public health and environmental challenges of our time. I strongly believe that everyone deserves better than breathing poor air.

There are dangerous levels of air pollution in Tower Hamlets, which can cause a range of detrimental health effects, especially to children. Around 40 per cent of Tower Hamlets residents are subject to unacceptable air quality, and over 45 of schools are in areas where the pollution levels exceed the legal limits.

I am pleased that Tower Hamlets Council is working with local community groups to reduce air pollution, and I support the Mayor of London’s environment strategy which will help tackle this problem.

As we look to the year ahead, the government must take responsibility to tackle the dangerous and illegal levels of air pollution.

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