CAMPAIGNERS are marching on the council this weekend in their battle to save five local authority Salford nurseries, currently facing the threat of closure.
A march and rally to #FIGHTFORTHEFIVE will be begin at 11am at Victoria Park, Manchester Road, Swinton, on Saturday organised by Unison and nursery users.
The march will travel from Victoria Park to Salford Civic Centre for a rally on the lawn.
The threat of closure came in February after the government reduced Salford City Council funding which has halved since 2010. A further £11.2 million reduction in funding for Salford City Council in 2018 led to plans to close the five council facilities.
The nurseries affected are: Little Hulton Day Nursery, Barton Moss Day Nursery, Higher Broughton Day Nursery, Belvedere Day Nursery and Winton Day Nursery.
For many parents, these nurseries are more than just childcare, the staff and the relationships that have been created are why many parents are campaigning so passionately.
Helen Finn, a parent of two children who attended Belvedere nursery, said: “The oldest of my children started just after her second birthday and we already had concerns over her development .
“The nursery was suggested as one that had a lot of experience of children with additional needs. From the moment wewent in to look around the staff were so understanding that we had different needs and listened to what we said.
“She has very delayed speech, yet the staff learnt to understand what she was trying to communicate, and made a real effort to help her using objects of reference and learning some basic sign-a-long. They really worked closely with the speech and language therapist to try to help her.
“Just before she left to start school she was diagnosed with autism and learning difficulties. While she will have lifelong difficulties, the progress she made in those two years at Belvedere nursery was huge, and I truly believe they played a big part in that.”
A meeting took place on February 17 to protest against the council calling for the 90-day consultation on the closure of five local authority Salford nurseries – due to run from February 26 until May 28, and after the local elections – to be stopped.
After an emotional meeting, staff, families and people from the community,voted overwhelmingly in favour of a proposal to ‘delay any consultation or alternative proposals and use that time to campaign for the money we need, and we should all stand together to demand that money’.
The consultation on the future of five Salford nurseries was paused for a month to allow campaigns, like this march and rally, against government funding cuts to take place.
City Mayor Paul Dennett says the pause will allow the council, trade unions, local MPs and parents and staff who would be affected if the nurseries had to close to lobby the government for funding to keep them open and under local authority control.
He also said: “I have written to the government to raise the funding issues and the severe impact on services which are facing unprecedented demands on the residents of our city. I have asked for them to review this funding shortfall.’’
Councillor Lisa Stone, lead member for children’s and young people’s services, said: “I know this is a difficult time for parents and staff but it’s important that we support the passion they have shown for the nurseries and use that to convince the government to think again and provide the funding we need to keep this excellent service open.”
Supporters can join the campaign by tweeting using #FightForTheFive and joining the Facebook group.
A petition has also been set up to save these Salford nurseries.