The Tories' attempt to get the closure of Brightstart Nursery sneaked through on the word of ONE councillor has unravelled.
A united campaign by both users and workers at the nursery has forced the Council to reopen the discussion and the process which led to the announcement of a "consultation" on the closure will now be re-examined by a scrutiny committee. The news comes hard on the heels of the revelation that the Council is also haveing to defer plans to sack 15 Connexions workers.
The nursery workers have made the following statement.......
Councillor Vanessa Brown has admitted that the planned closure of Bright Start nursery is just about saving money There is no mention in their report of the damaging effects to young children of closing their nursery, many only 4 months away from starting primary school. No thought is given either to the waste of disbanding an excellent team of nursery workers which has been built up over many years. When nurseries open, politicians are often keen to have their photos taken with smiling children. Will our councillors be at Bright Start for the cameras on their planned closure day as heartbroken children, parents and staff show their feelings?
A report full of red herrings
As well as not mentioning the effect on children, the report. makes no attempt to look at alternatives to closure apart from a 30% fee increase. Yet parents and Unison came up with a range of viable alternatives in a few hours .The report gives out of date figures about occupancy rates It repeats a projected cost of building work, which only a year ago wasn’t deemed necessary when the council funded the refurbishment of other nurseries in the city .Surely the council has a duty to write a more balanced report and to seriously consider all options before taking going down a route that is already causing great worry and stress for both parents and staff.
The report talk about staff pay being higher than the private sector and it notes that staff “retention is good” as if this was part of the problem.! Most private nurseries pay little more than the minimum wage. Trainees on £100 per week or less can be included in the staff-child ratios And some do not even pay sick pay. Bright Start staff are still paid far less than the average wage. But having staff who stay in the same job for many years, including two male workers is part of the reason why our nursery has such a good reputation. Surely this is what the children of this city deserve.
The Council Has The Money
The cost of lost taxes and benefits claimed would actually be more to the taxpayer than the alleged savings of closing Bright Start (Between£100,000 and £200,000!) That is farcical! We all know that the council has money to halt save Bright Start and the taxpayer. The Argus has reported recently on huge sums of money being wasted in Brighton and Hove council. £100,000s spent on empty buildings or writing off private companies debts, paying nearly £1million to a few “top” people to go and get another job, massive increases in councillors expenses, the appointment of Party Political advisors on nearly twice the salary of a nursery nurse, £4million to a cleaning company to clean EBCOMA school after they closed it down…..the list is endless without even mentioning the £Millions held by the council in “reserves”.
The Country Has The Money
As in Brighton and Hove, some sections of society nationally are awash with wealth and money while the rest of us are being told “we are all in this together” and “we must all tighten our belts”. The big question facing our City and the country currently is who has to pay for the financial disaster created by bankers, politicians and City of London gamblers?
Just like with the flawed report into Bright Start, there are plenty of alternatives to making the weakest and most vulnerable pay for the crisis. Brighton and Hove Unison branch stands by the staff, parents and children at Bright Start and will ensure that we are not the ones to pay with our jobs, careers, and the happiness of our children.
Printed and published by Brighton and Hove Unison c/o Brighton Town Hall, Bartholomew Square, Brighton
Please sign the petition at http://www.petition.co.uk/savebrightstartnursery (this will force the council to at least debate the issue)
Please see the parents’ website http://savebrightstartnursery.wordpress.com/
Please see the “Save Bright Start Nursery” and “Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition” facebook groups
Join us on the march against cuts The Level,Brighton. Noon .30th October