Agenda item

The proposed closure of Harmony and Treetops nurseries and the restructuring of Willow Nursery

This report considers the proposals to close Harmony and Treetops nurseries and restructure Willow nursery, which have been the subject of public consultation from 19th October 2011 to 13th January 2012

 

 

Decision:

(i)         that Willow nursery be restructured to enable further provision for children with a wide range of disabilities, while retaining its character as a mainstream nursery; 

(ii)        that Council-run day care services at Harmony Children’s Centre be closed from 30 March 2012;

(iii)       that Council-run day care services at Treetops Children’s Centre be closed from 20 July 2012; 

(iv)       that the building used for nursery services at Harmony Children’s Centre be used to facilitate expansion of Mitchell Brook School in the event that a decision is made to expand the school;

(v)        that officers invite proposals from private, voluntary and independent providers for use of the space at Treetops Children’s Centre as a nursery,  expected to be independent of and at no cost to the council, any such proposals to be considered on their merit; 

(vi)       that the decision on whether to proceed with  any such proposal in 2.5 above to use the space at Treetops Children’s Centre, be delegated to the Directors of Children and Families  and Regeneration and Major Projects, in consultation with the Lead Member for Children and Families.

(vii)   that it be noted that if the space at Harmony Children’s Centre is not used for the purpose identified in (iv) above that it will be used or disposed of in accordance with the relevant funding requirements and council policies, and 

(viii)  that if a decision is taken not to proceed with proposals received under paragraph (v) above, the space inside Treetops Children’s Centre no longer used for nursery services, be used to expand the core functions of the Centre.

Minutes:

Councillor Arnold (Lead Member, Children and Families) introduced the report from the Director of Children and Families which considered proposals to close Harmony and Treetops Nurseries and to restructure Willow Nursery, which have been the subject of public consultation from 19 October 2011 to 13 January 2012.

 

She referred to reductions in central government funding and the change in government policy, announced in November 2010, which removed the requirement to provide day care provision in children’s centres. The recommendations in the report had been amended as a result of comments received during the consultation exercise and the nurseries were now to remain open a further month to reduce disruption to children going on to school in September. Councillor Arnold stated that consideration was being given to allowing private nursery providers to rent space at Treetops. An options appraisal had been carried out, published last December, which showed that it was not possible to reduce costs sufficiently to a level that would be able to successfully compete with other nurseries. Councillor Arnold outlined the council’s statutory responsibilities set out in the report and that from monitoring and assessment, officers knew that good quality alternative childcare was available, for example with childminders, for the 60 children that would be displaced by the closures. Councillor Arnold drew members’ attention to the equalities impact assessment and likely impact on various groups in the borough, in particularly those children that were due to turn five in the next academic year. She stated that it was necessary for the council to make changes in line with available resources.

 

The Chair, Councillor John, thanked the parents/carers attending, acknowledged that the children concerned were at an important stage in their lives and stated that decisions were not taken lightly but regrettably the current financial climate was forcing the council to make changes. She looked forward to hearing from them again and thanked them for their involvement.

 

The Executive also had before them an appendix to the report which was not for publication as it contained the following category of exempt information as specified in Schedule 12 of the Local Government (Access to Information Act) 1972: 

 

Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

 

RESOLVED:-

 

(i)         that Willow nursery be restructured to enable further provision for children with a wide range of disabilities, while retaining its character as a mainstream nursery; 

 

(ii)        that council-run day care services at Harmony Children’s Centre be closed from 30 March 2012;

 

(iii)       that council-run day care services at Treetops Children’s Centre be closed from 20 July 2012; 

 

(iv)       that the building used for nursery services at Harmony Children’s Centre be used to facilitate expansion of Mitchell Brook School in the event that a decision is made to expand the school;

 

(v)        that officers invite proposals from private, voluntary and independent providers for use of the space at Treetops Children’s Centre as a nursery,  expected to be independent of and at no cost to the council, any such proposals to be considered on their merit; 

 

(vi)       that the decision on whether to proceed with any such proposal in (v) above to use the space at Treetops Children’s Centre, be delegated to the Directors of Children and Families  and Regeneration and Major Projects, in consultation with the Lead Member for Children and Families.

 

(vii)      that it be noted that if the space at Harmony Children’s Centre was not used for the purpose identified in (iv) above that it would be used or disposed of in accordance with the relevant funding requirements and council policies, and 

 

(viii)     that if a decision was taken not to proceed with proposals received under paragraph (v) above, the space inside Treetops Children’s Centre no longer used for nursery services, be used to expand the core functions of the Centre.

Supporting documents: