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Mums to protest at Tower Hamlets Council’s cabinet meeting over plans to close day-care nurseries

PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 June 2018

Picket outside Tower Hamlets' cabinet meeting in 2017 at launch of campaign against nursery privatisation or closures. Picture: Mike Brooke

Picket outside Tower Hamlets' cabinet meeting in 2017 at launch of campaign against nursery privatisation or closures. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Angry mums are furious over plans being discussed this-afternoon to close down three day-care nurseries run by Tower Hamlets council.

Nouruja Rahman pleading at a cabinet meeting in 2017 not to privatise nurseries... with retired former councillor Belle Harris (left) urging the mayor to use reserve funds to keep them open. Picture: Mike BrookeNouruja Rahman pleading at a cabinet meeting in 2017 not to privatise nurseries... with retired former councillor Belle Harris (left) urging the mayor to use reserve funds to keep them open. Picture: Mike Brooke

The first of the three closes in five weeks’ time for the summer and is unlikely to reopen, the East London Advertiser has learned.

The shock plans are being thrashed out at the council’s cabinet meeting starting at 4pm chaired by mayor John Biggs, which parents intend to lobby.

The plans call for a third public consultation in four years into the closure next month of Mary Sambrook nursery in Shadwell, followed in December by John Smith nursery in Stepney and early next year the Overland nursery in Bow.

The mums protested at the town hall last year with their toddlers and handed a petition to mayor Biggs when the council wanted outside contractors to take over running the nurseries.

Children getting posters ready for their mums to lobby Tower Hamlets Council in 2017 over nursery threats. Picture: Mike BrookeChildren getting posters ready for their mums to lobby Tower Hamlets Council in 2017 over nursery threats. Picture: Mike Brooke

“This was kept hush and not mentioned in the mayor’s election manifesto in May,” angry campaigner Nouruja Rahman told the Advertiser. “The thought of having day-care nurseries privatised last year was outrageous, but to have them closed will be 100 times worse.

“These nurseries are vital for children with special needs and mums who are already struggling to work to pay fees. The mayor is taking away something incredibly special and vital in our community.”

There are 22 children due to be enrolled at the nurseries in September, when the public consultations begin.

The council is promising alternative places at six nursery schools or at other day-care centres, with “no child left without a suitable place”.

Protest poster by children and their mums against nursery closures. Picture: Mike BrookeProtest poster by children and their mums against nursery closures. Picture: Mike Brooke

The mayor conceded that it was “difficult news” for parents of toddlers due to start in September. But he was facing “tough choices” having £58m erased by government cuts to the council’s overall budget every year since 2015. Government cash for the day-care nurseries runs out in September, which means the authority can’t afford costs of £15,000 a child, compared to £1,700 in nursery schools.

The parents would be offered places at six council nursery schools where their youngsters would begin ‘early years’ learning, rather than just getting day-care.

An open day is planned on Monday for parents affected by the closures to look round Children’s House nursery school in Bruce Road, Bromley-by-Bow, from 1pm.

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