Little Owls Leeds: Council to delay proposed nursery closures after 'feedback from parents'

Leeds Council is set to delay the proposed closures of city nurseries following "feedback from parents."
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The future of Little Owls Nurseries, which operates 24 centres across Leeds, was put in doubt last week after Leeds City Council confirmed a review of council-managed nurseries as part of sweeping cost-saving measures.

Parents were sent letters informing them that three of the centres - Kentmere, Chapel Allerton and Gipton North - were at risk of closures that could have been implemented as early as May.

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Now following feedback from parents, council has made the decision to delay any decision until August at the earliest.

Little Owls Chapel Allerton is one of those listed as at risk of closure. Picture: Tony JohnsonLittle Owls Chapel Allerton is one of those listed as at risk of closure. Picture: Tony Johnson
Little Owls Chapel Allerton is one of those listed as at risk of closure. Picture: Tony Johnson

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: "In response to feedback received from parents and carers on the proposals put forward following the review of Little Owls provision, a decision has been taken to delay the implementation of any proposed closures, should they be agreed, until August at the earliest.

"This would ensure that children who are due to transition to school in September 2024 are not adversely affected.

"We are also confident, through our sufficiency analysis, that this would enable all affected children to be accommodated in appropriate alternative provision, including other Little Owls settings."

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The proposed closures were put forward as part of the 2024/25 financial budget, where the council needs to save a further £58.4m in the year ahead, alongside £7.4m of already agreed savings.

City Council has described its financial situation as "desire" and set out a series of "unpopular" cost-saving measures.

On Monday, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that a Facebook group, now made up of over 350 members, had been set up as parents planned to fight back against the proposed closures.

A spokesperson from Stop the Closure of Little Owls Nurseries in Leeds said: "We are very happy to hear that Leeds City Council is delaying the implementation of proposed nursery closures.

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"We are also pleased to see increased consultation with the parents, carers and communities who will be affected by these propositions.

"We appreciate the challenging financial position in which the Council finds itself. But we do not believe that closing nurseries, and looking to privatise others, is the appropriate solution to the current childcare crisis."

As part of the review, all 24 council-run Little Owls nurseries have been categorised under the headings 'Close', 'Explore' or 'Retain'.

Alongside the three provisionally listed for closure, the futures of a further 12 sites are set to be explored - to see if another provider is willing to take on the sites and replace the council delivery.

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A council spokesperson added: "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."

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