Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Parents of children at Little Owls nurseries across Leeds are not resting on our laurels after the Labour-led council delayed the closure of three nurseries.

Since, we’ve elected a campaign steering committee, with representatives from all bar a few of the 15 threatened nurseries across the city. We now have sub-groups working on different aspects of the campaign.

As well as a lobby of the council’s executive on 17 April, we will be holding a rally outside another threatened Little Owls nursery, in Gipton North, on Saturday 20 April from 10am.

We are demanding the council withdraw its proposals for closures and stop exploring handing other nurseries to other providers.

The council has said it believes there to be adequate provision of nursery places to meet their statutory duties without running these 15 nurseries. But we haven’t been provided with any evidence of this! We challenge the council to put evidence being used to try to justify the closures into the public domain.

Moreover, alternative places may be unaffordable (with extra charges more common in private nurseries) or simply not practical for people without cars.

The steering committee agreed that myself and other TUSC candidates could distribute campaign material alongside our election material. We’ve already been out canvassing people near the Gipton North Little Owls.

Many people were shocked it’s been proposed for closure. One parent said he hadn’t been able to get a place for his daughter there. Another wanted to know all about the campaign and bought the Socialist to read about what we’ve been doing. Another local resident had all their children go to the nursery and worried what the impact of closure would be on future parents in the area.

Nine threatened nurseries lie within the seven wards on Leeds City Council being contested by TUSC, so every vote for us will represent a rejection of these callous proposals.

  • Iain is a Save Little Owls nurseries campaign steering group member and TUSC candidate for Gipton and Harehills, Leeds