Little Owls protest. Photo: Louie Fulton
Little Owls protest. Photo: Louie Fulton

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party and Save Little Owls nursery steering committee

Around 25 parents and children marched between Hunslet Rylestone and Hunslet St Mary’s Little Owls nurseries, both under threat of privatisation by Leeds Labour council, on 4 May.

Parents on the demo expressed their worries about the disruption of changing who runs the nurseries could have on their families. Most private providers charge higher fees or extra charges. Other providers, including academy school chains, may not provide the wrap-around provision that Little Owls does currently.

‘Save our nurseries!’

Chanting “Listen to the families, save our nurseries” as we marched, we had toots of support from passing cars. One woman took a sheet of the campaign’s petition and returned it filled in. ITV came down to film and interview us, as did a reporter from local newspaper South Leeds Life.

The Riverside and Hunslet ward is one where the now-elected Labour council candidate pledged to support the campaign’s demands. Parents on the demonstration told us they weren’t going to be voting Labour but decided to because of that pledge. That may have made the difference in Labour’s narrow victory over the Greens.

Both Labour and Green candidates sent apologies for the march, but local Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate and Socialist Party member Louie Fulton did attend and spoke at the rally. The campaign will be pressing those Labour and Green elected councillors across the city who pledged to back the campaign to deliver. After all, it is a Labour council.

We have further demonstrations planned outside threatened nurseries, culminating in a march outside nurseries in Kirkstall – the ward of the executive board member who has responsibility for the nursery privatisation and closure plans.