Cost-cutting council to offload its last remaining nurseries

Cllr Paul Canal

Cllr Paul Canal - Credit: Archant

A cost-cutting plan to hand the last remaining council-run nurseries over to volunteers and private companies looks set to be approved.

Redbridge Council is looking at transferring the running of nurseries at Loxford, Ray Lodge in Woodford Green and Hainault to the private or voluntary sector in an effort to cut costs.

The authority said it hoped the transfer would be complete by the end of March next year.

The nursery at Redbridge College, which is closed, will re-open after refurbishment under the running of the college.

Chief executive at the college Theresa Drowley said the former council-run nursery had not been popular with staff or students.

“The cost for students is so expensive, they don’t use it,” she said.

“If we are doing it ourselves we can cater it for the students.

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“We can then open it up to the community.”

Students on early years provision courses would be able to work in the nursery to gain experience.

The plans were approved at the children and young people’s service committee last night.

They will now be agreed either by the council cabinet or delegated to the cabinet member to be signed off.

A council spokesman said while all three and four-year-olds, and any eligible two-year-olds, would continue to be entitled to 15 hours’ free provision, the independent nurseries could set their own rates for additional hours.

Cllr Paul Canal, leader of Redbridge Conservative Group, said the council needed to stipulate the buildings must be used for nurseries – and prices must be kept down.

“We need to make sure the fees being charged to parents remain reasonable,” he said.

“The key thing is that provision continues.”

If approved, Loxford Nursery would be taken over by Barnardo’s, which already owns the building, with Ray Lodge Nursery in Woodford Green and Hainault Nursery run by external providers.

Cllr Elaine Norman, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This isn’t about changing the standard of our nurseries, which we are very happy with. This is about upholding those standards while reducing the financial pressure on the council.”