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Redbridge Conservatives call council leader ‘hypocritical’ for re-opening nursery in Derby

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 June 2020

The leader of the Redbridge Conservative Group said it was 'hypocritical' for the council leader to re-open a Derby nursery he owns while not supporting Redbridge schools opening. Picture: Google Maps

The leader of the Redbridge Conservative Group said it was 'hypocritical' for the council leader to re-open a Derby nursery he owns while not supporting Redbridge schools opening. Picture: Google Maps

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The leader of Redbridge Conservatives has said it’s “totally hypocritical” for the council leader to re-open a nursery he owns in Derby while advocating against opening some schools in Redbridge.

Cllr Linda Huggett said without a full accounting of the councils finances she couldnt support a petition pressuring the government to pay the money back. Picture: Ken MearsCllr Linda Huggett said without a full accounting of the councils finances she couldnt support a petition pressuring the government to pay the money back. Picture: Ken Mears

Council leader Jas Athwal said Cllr Linda Huggett was attempting “to score political points” and stressed the Orchard Garden Private Day Nursery, which he owns, is open to children of key workers thanks to strict safety measures in place.

Cllr Huggett (Monkhams) said: “To say one thing and then do another seems to be totally hypocritical bearing in mind that he has been urging Redbridge schools to remain closed.

“I suppose that’s the difference between being political and being in business!”

Cllr Athwal has been the director of the nursery since February 2016.

Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal accused the conservatives of trying to score political points. Picture: Ken MearsRedbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal accused the conservatives of trying to score political points. Picture: Ken Mears

The nursery re-opened yesterday with staggered drop-off times for the nine children who returned, with temperature checks, separate entrances, a permanent cleaner and a minimum ratio of one staff member per two children.

Cllr Athwal said he’s disappointed the re-opening of the nursery has turned into a political fight.

He asked for his statement to be included in full “to leave no room for confusion or misinterpretation”.

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Cllr Athwal said: “Just like our local Redbridge schools, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic my nursery has continued looking after both vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

“As in Redbridge, I’ve gone above and beyond government guidelines to make sure key workers like nurses, supermarket staff and teachers, among others, are able to continue working while their children are being cared for.

“My position on schools and nurseries opening has been clear, I believe it is essential that children only return once it is safe to do so.

“Our council has worked closely with local schools to make sure all necessary steps are taken to keep everyone safe.

“We have overseen union-backed risk assessments and supported headteachers and school governing bodies to make the right decisions for their individual schools.

“I’ve kept nine children of key workers safe in my nursery by implementing a rigorous cleaning rota, with a permanent cleaner on duty all day, provided PPE to staff and ensured there are regular temperature checks, separate entrances and a minimum ratio of one staff member per two children.

“It is a shame the leader of the Redbridge Conservative Group has chosen to make this issue personal and attempted to score political points.

“At this difficult time we should put politics aside and work together for the good of local people, I hope we can all move past this unnecessary nastiness and focus on what is truly important.”

Ofsted rated the nursery Good at the last inspection in 2017.

The nursery serves children aged from one to four years old and has places for 107 children with 89 on roll at the time of the inspection.


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