After months of campaigning over the future of Merrishaw Community Day Nursery, and after obtaining the support of local Councillors Reg Corns and Randal Brew and Richard Burden MP, two Council officials met several of the parents on Monday 5th September.
After explaining the move to Integrated Family Support by the Council, they listened to the powerful defence of the service that Merrishaw provided and the wish for it to continue. While there was a disagreement over what was possible, they did say that the consultation was not a closed book, and that they would see if they could develop something in the area. They also promised to look into some individual outstanding case problems that were identified.
On Tuesday 6th September, several parents were interviewed on Radio WM, followed by Richard Burden. Then, the man responsible for the closure of Merrishaw, the elusive local Councillor Les Lawrence, at last made contact, over the air waves.
You can listen to Radio West Midlands programme here:
He stated that take up of nursery places is poor. However in West Heath and surrounding nurseries there is a massive demand for nursery places. There is a 2 year waiting list at Wychall Nursery and Albert Bradbeer is similarly oversubscribed. Also, because of a job freeze, staff left through fear of redundancy and so they could not take more children in.He also farcically stated the Merrishaw closure was like the BBC move! But the BBC has moved buildings! It does not come around to all our individual houses and ask to broadcast from there! Merrishaw has closed and the services have shifted to a peripatetic system of service delivery! This is NOT the same as moving a service from one building to another!
Cllr. Lawrence claimed that “all 14 parents at Merrishaw have been placed into a better service”. This is not true! The Council’s ‘Integrated Services’ rely heavily on private child minders and private nurseries. And we know that not ALL parents have a suitable place yet!
He also claims that they have been moved onto “council run facilities”. The children who have been offered council run child care refers to education nursery provision which all 3 year olds are entitled to, and it is term time only. How is that a better service?
Not all staff have moved onto new jobs; there have been redundancies. All staff had to be interviewed for the Integrated Family Support jobs and if they were not successful then they would be either redeployed elsewhere in the department or have to take voluntary redundancy.
The consultation Lawrence refers to we also know is virtually NON- EXISTENT! Cllr Lawrence is either highly incompetent and/or he is a liar! The consultation process for the parents who met the officials this week was seven days, back in June.
The campaign to re-open the Merrishaw centre will continue! Its closure is just one effect of the huge cuts to services that the Council recently voted for. We cannot accept this.
Report from Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts