Little Owls Leeds: Parents slam consultation on council nurseries at risk of closure

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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.

The authority, which was required to save more than £58m in the last financial year, already confirmed that three of the nurseries were at risk.

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

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

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, 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.”

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The group is 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.

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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: [email protected]

“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.”