Families take fight to town hall steps

Protest at Blackpool Town Hall against plans to close two nurseries
Protest at Blackpool Town Hall against plans to close two nurseries

Dozens of parents and staff vented their anger at council bosses during a town centre protest over the possible closure of two nurseries.

Campaigners marched against controversial plans to close childcare facilities at Grange Park and Talbot and Brunswick Sure Start centres.

Protest at Blackpool Town Hall against plans to close two nurseries.  Amy Hindle and Sarah Lambert.

Protest at Blackpool Town Hall against plans to close two nurseries. Amy Hindle and Sarah Lambert.

Blackpool Council announced earlier this month it is proposing to close the centres to make savings of £250,000, and said it will assist families in finding alternative nursery places.

But this week Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, ‘called in’ the decision for review by a scrutiny committee – with parents, children and nursery workers braving wet and windy conditions to protest in the town centre and outside town hall yesterday.

Mum Lisa Garner-Jones, 28, of Normoss Avenue, near Grange Park, said she wants her son, Ryan to go to the same nursery as daughter Layla Kershaw, three.

She said: “My daughter loved it and made lots of new friends.

My daughter loved it and made lots of new friends

“We do not want the nursery to go. People do lots of courses, including maths and English. We hope the march will challenge people’s minds and get them to think again.”

Mum Lisa Shortman, 35, of Granville Road, Blackpool, said she wanted son Logan, three, to stay at Talbot and Brunswick Nursery.

She added: “It has helped my little boy – he could not talk much before. I was sad and angry when it was announced to close. It is difficult to get into other places. We hope this protest will change things.”

Hundreds of people have signed petitions calling for the nurseries to stay open, and two demonstrations were held last week.

Parents said they cannot travel to other nurseries, adding their children have benefited from the skills of the council nursery staff and they will no longer be able to take part in courses at the Sure Start centres if childcare is no longer offered.

Maria Moss, regional organiser for trade union Unison, said the closures would “take the heart out of the community.”

She added: “The council say they need to save money but recently awarded themselves a pay rise. Parents in the community have reacted, taking this to town hall. We want to protect people’s jobs.

“They are skilled staff and the nurseries function very well.”

Dave Dickinson, Unison area branch secretary added: “It is critical these nurseries stay open. There are 26 people there who could lose their jobs.

“There are dozens of people here, the vast majority parents, fighting for both to stay open.”

‘It is a very difficult decision but we know there are ample places’

Coun John Jones, cabinet member for children safeguarding, said: “Since January we have been reviewing the nursery provision that exists across Blackpool. As a result we are currently consulting on a proposal that would see Talbot and Brunswick and Grange Park Children’s Centres stop providing nursery places. The Children’s Centres will remain open and continue to offer services to families and children. It is a very difficult decision to make but we know that there are ample places available elsewhere in the private, voluntary and independent childcare sector in the town.

“Families will be invited to attend consultation sessions so we can hear their views and offer them assistance if they want to look for alternative childcare.“