Jo Swinson MP for East Dunbartonshire is urging the Council to find a way to address the lack of much needed nursery care provision in East Dunbartonshire
Jo's letter to the Council comes in the wake of the sudden closure of Little Gems nursery premises in Milngavie and Westerton. The closures left parents with just 48 hours to find alternative childcare.
Jo has long been calling for the Council to conduct a thorough review of their long-term nursery provision, taking into account the needs of working parents for wrap-around care and future demand which could increase as new homes are built. In a meeting in June 2011Council officials recognised the need for a review but to date none has taken place.
Commenting Jo said:
"The Council may not be to blame for the Little Gems nursery closures but they are part and parcel of a larger problem.
"The Council has been promising a strategic review of nursery provision for almost two years, with no sign of it yet.
"Local parents really depend on nurseries to help them juggle work and family life. The Council needs to make sure there is adequate provision and do more to keep nurseries open."
- Jo's letter to East Dunbartonshire Council is below:
Mr Gordon Currie
Head of Education
East Dunbartonshire Council
12 Strathkelvin Place
26 October 2012
Dear Mr Currie,
Local Authority Nursery Provision/Little Gems Nursery
Thank you for your letter of 9 October in relation to local authority nursery provision.
I am obviously disappointed that the Council's strategic review of nursery provision has been delayed for so long. In my opinion, personnel changes at senior level in the Education Service should not impact so severely on important strategic decisions which are required to be taken in the interests of young children in East Dunbartonshire. While I appreciate your commitment to update me on future progress in a letter, I would suggest that a meeting may provide us with a platform for a more constructive discussion.
With regards to the closure of Little Gems Nursery in Milngavie, I am sure you can appreciate the significant problems this has caused to parents and those who were employed by the nursery. Several parents have contacted me to raise their concerns about this episode. They are very unhappy about the short notice period given by the Council prior to the nursery closing its doors. They feel that the Council's concerns about the long-term sustainability of the nursery should have been communicated to parents before the day they were informed of the company's liquidation.
Parents and children were obviously distressed that nursery staff were effectively sacked in front of them on the Friday the nursery closed. Nursery staff were, I understand, visibly upset when they were told their jobs were to go. While I understand that it was the company's liquidators who informed staff, I am sure you would appreciate that this situation was far from ideal. I would therefore be grateful if you could provide your personal opinion on the way the closure was handled on that Friday at the nursery.
Aside from the immediate distress relating to the announcement of the closure, I am sure you will appreciate the trouble caused to parents who were forced, at very short notice, to either seek alternative childcare or to take time off work. The parents who contacted me were not satisfied with the Council's contingency arrangements and felt they were not being helped. I would be grateful if you could provide details of what help was offered to parents and what efforts were made to accommodate displaced children in alternative local authority care.
Cleary, the Little Gems situation highlights the need for a proper review of local authority nursery provision, which makes it all the more disappointing that the planned review has not been carried out. You will recall that we met on 2 June 2011 and you recognised the need for a strategic review. This was nearly seventeen months ago and I am sure you will appreciate that it is extremely disappointing that you did not carry forward your commitment from our meeting.
As I say, I would very much like to meet with you to discuss this and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Jo Swinson MP