New hope to protect child day care subsidy

Todmorden Children's Centre, at Todmorden Community College
Todmorden Children's Centre, at Todmorden Community College

COUNCILLORS have reassured parents and families that they will take another look at plans to withdraw subsidy funding for day care provision at Todmorden Children’s Centre.

In November, Calderdale Council announced that it was considering whether to continue subsidising day care provision at six children’s centres in the borough.

A 90-day consultation period began and, with the council preparing its draft budget for 2013-14, several councillors voiced their opposition to any withdrawal of funding at the centres, which can be up to £4,000 per child.

Coun Megan Swift, Labour’s spokeswoman on children’s issues, is hoping to put together a working party including staff, parents, councillors and people from private day nurseries to explore the issue.

“These children’s centres are vital to parents and children and it’s very important that we don’t close them down,” she said.

“But we need to provide the service cheaper than we do at the moment.

“What we want to do is put together a working party which includes staff, parents, councillors and people from private day nurseries.

“It’s frightening how much money has been cut since 2010 and how much is going to be cut by 2015.

“We’ve done a number of things that are not easy.

“I think councillors from all the parties would not want to touch things like child care, which is why we have tracked back quickly to try to find another way.

“Nothing is going to happen quickly. We will live with the current system for a little bit longer.

“In my opinion, parents can stop panicking that there will not be a place for their child.”

Coun Swift said that the consultation process has highlighted that frontline services for young children and their families are a priority.

“We want to try and make sure that high quality day care remains available for every family that wants it,” she said.

“Frankly, it doesn’t make sense to risk the closure of these day care centres, many of which were purpose built or adapted only a few years ago, without taking a bit more time to look at every possible way of continuing to make use of them.

“We want to see a lot more consultation with parents and staff to develop new proposals for each of the centres that are at risk.”

Calder and Todmorden ward councillors have been campaigning to protect the subsidy for day care provision.

Coun Dave Young said: “We’ve talked to many parents who’ve told us just how important this day care is to them, and how they’ll struggle if it is lost as a result of the withdrawal of the subsidy.

“That’s why we think the council should take back the present proposals and have a longer look at how we can find a better way forward.”

Coun Nader Fekri said: “We’ve always said that frontline services for young children and their families are a priority, and that’s the message that has come back to us loud and clear.

“I’m angry that we’ve been put in such a difficult position by Government cuts, and we will not be supporting the withdrawal of the subsidy if it risks any of these centres closing.”

Calderdale Council’s draft budget proposals can be viewed, and feedback given, on its website,