Sheffield nursery closure protest

One voice: Parents protest outside the Little Green House Nursery at Low Edges.
One voice: Parents protest outside the Little Green House Nursery at Low Edges.

PARENTS say their toddlers have been left with nowhere to go following the sudden closure of Sheffield nurseries.

Families in Low Edges have spoken of their shock and upset at the announcement that Little Green House Nursery is to shut its doors on March 31 due to funding cuts.

The move means the mothers and fathers of 40 pre-school children will be forced to make childcare arrangements at a time when other nurseries in the area are already over-subscribed in the middle of the school year.

The closure of Little Green, which is operated by children’s charity Barnardo’s, is thought to be the beginning of the end for a number of nurseries and children’s centres across the city as Sheffield Council re-structures early years services.

Parents with youngsters at Woodthorpe Sure Start Centre in Lewis Road were told this week that it will shut its doors on March 29.

Protest group Save Sheffield Early Years predicted the disruption as members fought proposals put together in light of a £6.8 million cut to the city’s Early Intervention Grant from central government.

Jenny Hyatt, who has a three-year-old at the nursery and another tot who was due to start in September, said: “I was so shocked. It only opened last year because there was such a need for it in the community.

“The waiting list at Low Edges school is really big. There are parents who rely on the nursery for childcare and at the moment we’re all losing out.

“All the staff and parents want to keep it open. I knew there were big cuts coming but I didn’t think it would close so soon.”

On top of providing nursery facilities, the centre also offers a number of courses and classes.

First-time mum Amy Hutchins, 35, has been taking her six-month-old twins to the centre for baby massage and had planned to set up a parents group at Little Green.

She said: “There are mothers who need support, somewhere to take their children and meet other mums. It’s a real loss to the community.”

A spokeswoman for Barnardo’s said: “It is with sadness that we announce the closure of the Gresley Road nursery.

Unfortunately, current financial pressures mean it is no longer financially viable for Barnardo’s to run the nursery. After consultation, we feel the only option is closure.

“Barnardo’s is committed to supporting children and their families and is currently working closely with those who are using the nursery to help them find alternative provision.

“Staff are also being supported in applying for other suitable roles.”

Amanda Royal, whose daughter attends Woodthorpe Children’s Centre, said: “Both myself and my husband work - him nights and me full-time - and we need the facility to enable us to work.

“It seems Sheffield Council has let us down once again. Despite saying that none of the centres will close on several occasions, this has been allowed to happen.”

Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield council’s cabinet member for children, young people and families, has said previously: “There are 13 centres run by voluntary groups, three by schools, three run by private companies and one NHS provider.

“One has four managers costing a total of £120,000 a year who do not work with the children. They will have to change to survive.”

The council said that if any nurseries still have to close, it has ‘contingency plans’ for alternative facilities.