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21 February 2018

Save Salford nurseries!

Sally Griffiths, Salford Socialist Party

Childcare workers, parents and Salford residents filled Hemsley Hall on 17 February to start their campaign to save five council-run nurseries.

The Labour council has, with the usual 'heavy heart', made the 'difficult decision' to include these nurseries in its long-running public service cuts.

Over 250 people were in attendance and during the meeting a young mother squeezed into the room to announce that there were many more supporters of the campaign outside who couldn't fit in.

This was a fantastic show of strength at a meeting that had been called by The Salford branch of public service union Unison with only a week's notice when the consultation for closure was announced.

We heard from a nursery nurse, a parent and a trade union member in Bolton who had fought for a nursery and won.

Speakers from the floor told how vital the nurseries were for working class people in Salford and also how all five of the threatened nurseries were graded as 'outstanding' - why close a service that is obviously working? No one wants to see nurseries privatised either, as quality of care and staff terms and conditions would drop.

Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour mayor Paul Dennett and a few Labour councillors tried to persuade the crowd that they could be trusted to fight to save the nurseries but they were unable to convince them.

The packed meeting called on the council to scrap the consultation and launch a joint campaign to demand the return of the funds stolen from Salford by the Tory government.

At the end of the meeting the talk was "we will win this" and "our nurseries will not close" from a confident and angry community.

Parents and workers all stepped forward to take up positions on steering groups for all the nurseries.

A petition has been started which went from 1,500 to over 5,000 signatures in 24 hours.

One mother said to us on leaving: "They don't need to thank us for coming out on a Saturday morning - they won't be able to keep us away when they threaten our children".

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