County Hall deny accusation they knew about nursery closure before children’s centre decision
PUBLISHED: 10:00 16 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:18 16 February 2019
County Hall has denied the accusation that they knew about the closure of three nurseries prior to the decision to shut 38 children’s centres across Norfolk.
The accusation came after Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust announced Tree Tops Nursery and Kingfisher Nursery in Thetford and Footsteps Nursery in Bowthorpe will close on Friday, March 29.
The trust said the decision had been made due to not being able to continue to run them at a loss.
Tree Tops Nursery is housed in one of the few remaining children’s centres in Norfolk at Kingsway in Thetford, following a decision from councillors to shut 38 centres, leaving only 15 remaining.
Thetford councillor Terry Jermy said decisions to shut nurseries are not made quickly, and said he struggled to believe officials and senior councillors were not aware of the decision made by NCHC to close the nurseries before the vote on the future of children’s services in Norfolk.
He said: “The crucial question is how long have Norfolk County Council officers and senior councillors known about the closures, and most importantly, did they know in advance of the children’s services committee meeting which decided to close down children’s centres?
“They don’t make these decisions quickly and we are talking weeks ago, so they must have known.
“NCHC are a major provider and we were told that there had been robust discussion with providers during the consultation. It doesn’t give you much confidence in the process.”
A county council spokesman denied the accusation officials and councillors knew about the closures by NCHC before the decision was made on children’s centres.
She said: “The closure of nurseries is entirely separate to our move to an early childhood and family service from October.
“We were notified by NCHC that they were going to close their nurseries only after we had made the decision to launch our new service.”
Both Footsteps and Tree Tops are rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, while Kingfisher is rated ‘good’.
It is estimated around 70 families will be directly affected by the closure of the nurseries.