Local mothers have started a campaign to save their nursery AGAIN after winning a victory to keep it open back in 2014.
In 2014, Lutfur Rahman and his administration had to make cuts so painfully decided that some nurseries had to close. This prompted local mums to set up the ‘Save our Nurseries‘ campaign.
That campaign was backed by both Tower Hamlets MP’s Jim Fitzpatrick and Rushnara Ali and most of the Labour party who are now in control of the council.
In 2014, Labour spokesperson for schools in Tower Hamlets councillor Danny Hassell brought forward an emergency motion at a full council meeting calling for the council to reverse the proposed nursery closures.
The motion passed with a majority. Some Conservative councillors accused Labour of using the motion for “political propaganda”.
After a two-month consultation in 2014, it was announced at a council cabinet meeting on 3rd December that the ‘settings will be removed from the savings proposals’.
Old Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman said, ‘After giving careful consideration to the views of users, parents, nursery workers, trade unions and other members of the community, it is our intention to keep all four nurseries open.’
Deputy Mayor Rachael Saunders who was leader of the Labour group in 2014 and a virulent backer for the original campaign to save the nurseries, said: “It’s vital for all of us across the borough that local parents have access to that support.”
She also said “The Save our Nurseries campaign, led by local mums has done a brilliant job of demonstrating to us all why these nurseries are so important.
Tower Hamlets children deserve the best start in life with 49% of our children living in poverty, the support that these nurseries give is vital.
Our work is not yet done, we will continue to fight proposed cuts to vital local services including social care and children’s centres. We know that these cuts have been imposed by the government. Lutfur Rahman has a responsibility to keep his promises to protect the front line.”
But now it seems Cllr Rachael Saunders has backed out giving her support to the mothers. We assume Labour backed the mothers only to get their votes.
A mother messaged us and said: “I don’t know if you’re aware but we are trying to get a campaign to save the cuts to cahms and the closure of the local authority nursery in Bow called Queen Marys Nursery one of the four nurseries that was saved 18 months ago and supported by the Cllr Rachael Saunders and the Labour party and it’s Rachael Saunders who has closed it”.
A reader said: “The same cllr who closed my daughters nursery is the same cllr who stood with me in Bethnal Green and in Bow collecting signatures to keep the nursery open 18 months ago”
They added: “We have had no official letter telling us that the nursery will be closing for good on the 31st July just been told by word of mouth that it’s closing for good on the 31st July by the staff”.
We asked Cllr Rachael Saunders for comment but she declined and forwarded us on to the councils PR department.
The councils PR department replied and said: “Service at the nursery was temporarily suspended on 4th February 2016 following a Health and Safety inspection which found asbestos in the building’s boiler room. Whilst the asbestos has been removed, there remain concerns including damp, legionella bacteria in the pipes and a non-functional roof.
At present there is plenty of council supported childcare in the vicinity – all of either good or outstanding quality. All children were offered places at nearby equivalent or superior provision, and as children move into school nursery classes in September, there will be a big increase in vacancies in the area.
We are not using the building for the duration of a thorough investigation into its viability. As the building itself is leased, there are discussions with the landlord about the continuation of the lease as the cost of restitution may not provide good value for money for the council.
We will continue to update parents on the situation, and any parents affected can contact the Early Years Service on 02073644142.”
The Save our Nurseries campaign has started up again with a fresh petition calling on Mayor Biggs to reverse the decision to close Queen Mary nursery.
A supporter who signed the petition said: “This is a vital service, and must be reopened. This is a massive reduction in care for some of the most vulnerable kids. And the hypocrisy of the Labour councillors who campaigned to save this nursery 18 months ago, just so they could close it themselves… they are a disgrace to themselves and to Labour, esp a Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn”