Parents criticise Little Owls nursery consultation


By Don Mort, local democracy reporter

Additional reporting: John Baron

Parents campaigning against the possible closure of nurseries have claimed they are not being properly consulted by the council.

Leeds City Council launched a review of Little Owls, which operates 24 nurseries in the city, as part of multi-million pound budget cuts. Nurseries at Bramley, Burley Park and Hawksworth Wood are among 12 where alternative provision is being explored.

The authority, which was required to save more than £58m in the last financial year, have already confirmed that three nurseries in North and East Leeds are at risk.

The council has delayed the possible closure of the Kentmere, Chapel Allerton and Gipton North centres until August at the earliest, in response to feedback from parents.

But the Save Little Owls Nurseries campaign said some online consultation events were announced at less than a week’s notice and at times when parents would be putting children to bed.

Amy Greenshields, a parent at Kentmere Little Owls in Seacroft, said: “This is incredibly annoying, as when the consultation for my children’s nursery will take place I will be away for work.

“There is no way my husband would be able to go to the event with two children to feed and get to bed at the same time.”

re Campaigners calling on the council to withdraw its proposals and publish all documents relating to the Little Owls review.

A spokesperson said: “The council clearly never intended to consult parents with its original decision, planned for mid-April 2024, and now we instead have this rushed consultation.

“This is why we are calling for the council to shelve these proposals and put their review and ‘sufficiency analysis’ into the public domain, and run a proper consultation with multiple sessions to ensure all parents, carers and families affected by this decision can take part.”

Leeds City Council said parents had been informed of the different ways they could take part in the consultation.

A council spokesperson said: “We are hosting 15 online engagement sessions and those who are unable to attend but would still like some more information can receive a copy of the presentation slides and support with any questions about the proposal from their daycare manager.

“All views are important to us, whether or not you attend an engagement session, so we have set up a dedicated e-mail account that everyone can submit comments to:

“As we have previously stated, we understand the concerns of parents, carers, staff and communities which could be affected by the proposals.

“These are proposals at this stage and we are continuing to engage with parents, carers and other stakeholders before any final decisions are made.”

Councils across the country are experiencing severe financial stress as a result of significantly increased costs to provide services and rising demand, especially for vulnerable young people and adults. This is being seen especially in supporting looked after children, those with special care and education needs as well as for adult social care, while a nationally-agreed pay increase for council staff has also added to budget pressures.

The position in Leeds reflects the impact of funding reductions from central government, cost increases and demand pressures for council services since 2010. Between 2010 and the end of 2024/25, the council will have had to deliver savings totalling £794million.

WLD cutswatch

WLD has been chronicling cuts in Leeds since 2020 in its Cutswatch series.


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