The campaign to save five Salford City Council nurseries is set to go national next week when a coach with a delegation of parents, workers and politicians heads to Parliament.
Salford Council and Mayor Paul Dennett proposed closing the OFSTED rated 'outstanding' nurseries, arguing that changes to the Early Years funding formula would leave a huge funding gap.
A consultation on the closures was due to go ahead but, after a big public meeting opposed the plans, the Mayor did a U-turn, originally postponing the consultation for a month, and then finding £1.5million to keep them open for a further year.*
Meanwhile, a new consultation has started with closure removed as an option, although third party involvement is on the agenda, despite campaigners stating they will oppose any form of privatisation.
In the background to the campaign is political backbiting, as the Government has said it might be 'flexible' on how the new funding formula is used, but that Salford Council hadn't actually asked for flexibility, despite blaming the Government for the proposed closures.
The Mayor did finally write to the Government in a joint letter with Salford Conservative Party Leader, Les Turner, and a reply has been received, although this has not been made public. The Salford Star understands that the response stated that Government officials would meet the Council to discuss the matter.
Now the campaign looks set to be at the centre of a political battle, with Rebecca Long-Bailey having organised a meeting of MPs in the Palace of Westminster at 1pm on 25th April, at which campaigners will put their case 'why cuts to council nursery funding need to end'.
The delegation also hopes to meet directly with representatives of the Government, while Jeremy Corbyn is set to ask a question, set by a campaigner, directly at Prime Minister's Question Time to put further pressure on the Education Department to be flexible in its funding which favours private nurseries over local authority nurseries.
* For a full background on the Save Our Salford Nurseries campaign see previous related Salford Star articles and links...
Salford Council Consults on Nursery 'Alternatives' - click here
Massive U-turn by Salford Mayor to Keep Nurseries Open - click here
Hundreds March To Save Salford Nurseries - click here
Salford Mayor Finally Asks Government For Nurseries Funding Flexibility - click here
Photo by Gareth Lyons