This is shortened version of a press release from the campaign
Parents, carers, and the community gathered together outside Sebright Children’s Centre in on 29 January to protest the proposed closures of nurseries by Hackney [Labour] Council.
Yulisa Keselman, spokesperson for the group, and parent with a child at Sebright, said:
“We will do everything to fight the decision to close our beloved nursery and children’s centre, which is at the heart of our community.
Beaten cuts before
Natalie Aguilera, a parent with a child at Fernbank nursery, who was involved in the last campaign to stop the closure of Fernbank and Hillside, said:
“We are devastated to be here, once again, fighting to keep these vital services that offer a lifeline for many low-income families in particular, open.
“Unfortunately, just like last time, the data and evidence included in the rationale for proposed closures is incorrect, incomplete and, in places, actively misleading. The data on occupancy rates, that so much of their case for closures rests on, is deeply flawed.
“Hackney Council has still not presented a long-term plan to safeguard remaining children’s centre nursery provision, so we strongly believe more closures will follow if we allow them to go ahead with these.
We call on Mayor Woodley to stop these closures – that the community clearly rejected only two years ago – and to invest in quality, affordable childcare in Hackney.”
Matt Paul, joint branch secretary of Hackney Unison trade union, said:
“Our members make up the majority of affected staff. Dedicated to the children they work with and help flourish, the staff – many of whom are Hackney residents themselves – clearly see the impact of these cuts: the personal pain of losing their jobs, and the uncertain futures they face, but even more so the loss of such vital services to those that need it most.
“That’s why it’s vital that everything possible is done to protect key services for our community like our children centres, something we are not convinced has happened in this instance.”
Closures will result in the loss of 149 council-subsidised places for quality, affordable childcare, more than 25% of the total currently on offer at Hackney’s children’s centre nurseries. Children will not be guaranteed places in another children’s centre nursery.
Over 50 children’s centre staff and support workers (cleaners, caretakers, catering staff) across Fernbank and Sebright will lose their jobs should the centres close. There may be further redundancies at the two other sites – Hillside and Oldhill – where changes to their admission criteria is proposed.
Hackney Council tried to close Fernbank and Hillside nurseries in 2021. But the community led a successful campaign to stop the closures.
Chair of Hackney Unison and Socialist Party member Brian Debus said: “Hackney Labour council should be expanding childcare services, and sending the government the bill!”