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Little Owls: Three Leeds nursery closures confirmed by city council

Little Owls: Three Leeds nursery closures confirmed by city council

Image subtitle, Little Owls Chapel Allerton centre to be among those closed by Leeds City Council

  • Author, Not Dead
  • Paper, Local Democracy Reporting Service

The closure of three nurseries in Leeds will come after failed attempts to have the decision reconsidered by council bosses.

Little Owls centres in Chapel Allerton, Kentmere in Seacroft and Gipton North have been earmarked for closure due to Leeds City Council’s cost-cutting plans.

The decision was approved at a review meeting on Tuesday, when calls for a U-turn by opposition councillors and parents were rejected.

The local authority said keeping the centres open was not sustainable and that children would be found in alternative childcare settings.

Opposition councillors called for the closure decision and a wider review of the Little Owls service to be referred back to the council’s executive board.

But the closures and all but one of the proposed revisions have been cleared for implementation by the children and families review board, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Image subtitle, Little Owls centre in Seacroft is one of three to close

Leila Ball, whose 19-month-old son attends an unaffected Little Owls daycare, said she was worried about what would happen if her center closed in the future.

Ms Ball, 34, said she was unable to place him in any nearby private nursery because they said they could not meet his complex needs.

“No matter what assurance they may give, it doesn’t make me feel any better about where a family like me might be in a year’s time, trying to find a place and faced with a scenario of only private provision,” she told BBC Radio Leeds.

“Unless the systems are completely different in terms of childcare in the private sector, I don’t think there is any alternative for a family with a disabled child.”

Hattie Hodgson-Crome said families were pleased with Little Owls’ service.

“It feels like this decision was made in a rush, not thought through properly,” she said at the meeting.

“The team is really experienced and able to support families in a crisis.”

‘Wonderful service’

Helen Hayden, the council’s executive member for children and families, said the authority did not want to close nurseries and staff would not lose their jobs.

She said: “The staff changes and these closures ensure the sustainability of Little Owls facilities for our children and families.”

The review board decided the closures could go ahead, alongside other measures including the council’s continued direct management of nine Little Owls centres.

A review of 12 other centers would be carried out, which could result in them being merged or acquired by alternative providers.

The board voted to refer future decisions about these centers back to the executive board.

A spokesperson for the Stop the Closure of Little Owls group said: “We are extremely concerned that closing or privatising Little Owls nurseries will make Leeds a worse place to be a parent, and a worse place for our most vulnerable children.

“Our campaign doesn’t stop here – we are committed to holding the council to account as they explore the future of Little Owls aviaries and we will do everything we can to protect this wonderful service.”

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