More time to find a lifeline for council-run nurseries

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people interested in running three under threat council-run nurseries in the Wakefield district have been given extra time to submit their proposals.

Last year senior councillors in Wakefield agreed that running three nurseries, set up to help families in deprived areas of the Wakefield district, was no longer financially viable.

They agreed in principle that the three Neighbourhood Nurseries would have to close following the withdrawal of Government funding. However, parents, carers and nursery staff were given the opportunity to submit sustainable proposals for the management and running of the nurseries by an initial deadline of January 20.

However yesterday the authority said due to the ongoing interest in the future of the nurseries and representations made to the council leader, Coun Peter Box, on behalf of parents, the deadline for submissions has now been extended until February 29.

The nurseries affected are: Airedale Neighbourhood Nursery, Ferry Fryston, Pomfret Neighbourhood Nursery, in Pontefract, and St Swithun’s Neighbourhood Nursery in Eastmoor, Wakefield.

Coun Box said yesterday: “There has been significant interest from people to take over the running of these facilities and I want to ensure that everyone gets a good opportunity to make their proposal.

“The financial situation surrounding the Neighbourhood Nurseries remains the same, but we will do everything possible to help local people and the community put forward proposals for them to make the facilities viable and sustainable.”

Bosses at Wakefield Council have said they can no longer afford to spend £171,000 each year to subsidise the three nurseries following the withdrawal of funding for the project.

The authority is also faced with having to find £67m in savings over four years after Government funding to the authority was cut.

When the submission date closes at the end of February the proposals will be considered by members of Wakefield Council’s cabinet.

The nurseries were set up as part of an initiative by the previous Labour Government’s to increase the number of childcare places in deprived areas.

The nurseries provide subsidised childcare for families on low income.