I recently visited Overland Children’s Centre with Rushanara Ali MP to discuss the Council’s proposed nursery closures. Below is our joint letter as supporters of the ‘Save Our Nurseries’ campaign.
Mr Robert McCulloch-Graham
Corporate Director Tower Hamlets Council
Education, Social Care & Wellbeing
The Town Hall
5th Floor Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
London E14 2BG
28 October 2014
Re: Proposed closure of nurseries across Tower Hamlets
We are writing to you as supporters of the ‘Save Our Nurseries’ campaign. This campaign was initiated by a group of concerned mothers of children from four nurseries which have been signposted for closure by Tower Hamlets Council.
As you are already aware, the four nurseries which have been impacted by the Council’s proposed cuts as part of the ‘Your Borough, Your Voice’ consultation include Overland’s Children’s Centre and Queen Mary Day Nursery in Bow, John Smith Children’s Centre in Stepney and Mary Sambrook Day Nursery in the Shadwell area. While we anticipate that an extended consultation will determine the future of these services, many of our constituents remain extremely concerned about the devastating effect of such closures.
Since the last election, the cost of a nursery place has risen by 30% – five times faster than pay. Across the UK, there are now 35,000 fewer childcare places – and 578 fewer SureStart centres – than there were in 2010. Yet this national crisis threatens to hit areas such as Tower Hamlets hardest. Recent figures published by the Campaign to End Child Poverty revealed that 49% of children in Tower Hamlets already live below the poverty-line. Further closures to these nurseries will have a potentially devastating impact on families most in need.
We have met with the mothers who are frequent users of these services and they have spoken highly of the nurseries and support they have received from them. They now fear such services, that provide a lifeline for their children, will no longer be accessible to them. Our constituents have expressed anxiety about the proposed cuts which will inevitably have the highest impact on their children – many of whom have special educational needs and health issues that require specialist care. For example, as you are already aware, Overland’s Children’s Centre provides specialist care services for deaf children.
Our constituents have expressed their frustrations about the lack of communication with the council and the inability to convey their concerns through practical and easily accessible means. The mothers have asked Tower Hamlets Council to engage with them in open communication and to exercise transparency when reviewing the decision for these proposed cuts. They have asked the council to provide a fair and viable consultation that is inclusive of their input, allowing the parents and nursery staff to properly communicate their anxieties, and we offer our full support for their cause.
It would be helpful if the council could outline the total savings it intends to make as a result of these closures and the alternatives that have been put forward as a consequence.
We urge you to reconsider the proposed cuts and would be grateful if you could look into our constituents’ requests and provide a response to our enquiry as soon as possible.
Rushanara Ali MP Jim Fitzpatrick MP
Bethnal Green and Bow Poplar and Limehouse