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SALFORD COUNCIL NURSERY CLOSURE GOVERNMENT BOMBSHELL
 

Star date: 20th February 2018

GOVERNMENT REVEALS THAT SALFORD COUNCIL NEVER ASKED FOR FUNDING FLEXIBILITY

Salford City Council recently announced that it was proposing to close all five of its nurseries. And yesterday Children's Lead Member, Lisa Stone, said that it was "a direct result of Government changes, which reduce the use of Dedicated Schools Grant."

However, this afternoon a spokesperson for the Department for Education told the Salford Star that "Any council that had concerns…could apply to the department for increased flexibility" in the Grant's use. They added that "The Department has not received a request from Salford for increased flexibility…" This is bound to increase pressure on the City Mayor to hold off the consultation on the closures.

Full details here…


Eleven days ago, Salford Council announced that it was to consult on the closure of all of its five OFSTED rated outstanding nurseries – Little Hulton Day Nursery, Barton Moss Day Nursery, Higher Broughton Day Nursery, Belvedere Day Nursery and Winton Day Nursery.

These nurseries look after 327 children, 87 of whom have special needs, and the closures would lead to over one hundred nursery workers' jobs being axed. At a meeting attended by hundreds of people last Saturday, both workers, parents and grandparents told of the devastating affect it would have on some of the city's most vulnerable young people (see previous Salford Star article – click here).

Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett; Salford and Eccles MP Rebecca Long-Bailey and Children's Lead Member Lisa Stone all attacked Tory Government changes in funding for three and four year olds, which would leave a huge financial deficit forcing it to shut the five nurseries…

"We are making representations to the Government" Dennett angrily told the meeting. However, this afternoon, the Department of Education answered a Salford Star request for a comment on the nursery closures, insisting that Salford Council has had since 2016 to 'make representations to the Government'

"Following our consultation in 2016 on the Early Years funding formula, councils must pass the vast majority of the funding they receive for the free entitlements for three and four year olds on to providers" said a spokesperson "Any council that had concerns around meeting these requirements could apply to the Department for increased flexibility…

"The Department has not received a request from Salford for increased flexibility…" they added, informing that the early years portion of Salford's Dedicated Schools Grant will increase by 8% in the next financial year - from £17.9million in 2017-18, to £19.4million in 2018-19.

On Saturday, the Council gave hand-outs to those attending the meeting quoting dizzying figures showing a "projected overspend" in 2018/19 of £1.75million

"In 2016-17, the three and four year old free entitlement funding was £12.18million" it stated "The allocation in 2017/18 is estimated to be £14.1million. In 2016/17 the LA [Local Authority] retained £2.3million to pay for delivery of our local authority early years services, but because of the change above, we now can only currently retain £705,000. A similar amount of funding is estimated to be retained in 2018/19…"*

The City Mayor, Salford MP and other Labour councillors urged a joint campaign with the unions, parents and nursery staff against the Government… "We've got to stand up and make sure we fight as a community and that we're not going to take this lying down" said Rebecca Long-Bailey.

However, the meeting voted almost unanimously (Salford Mayor and some councillors excepted) to protest against Salford Council, as well as the Government, if the consultation on the closures wasn't stopped.

There was no sign of this yesterday as Salford Council issued a press release stating that a ninety day consultation will run from 26th February until 28th May…and that if a 'cost neutral solution' couldn't be found the nurseries would close.

However, if true that Salford Council hadn't even requested 'increased flexibility' for the new funding changes before announcing the proposed nursery closures, the Salford Mayor will come under even more pressure to halt the consultation until a request to, and an answer from the Government is forthcoming.


The Salford Star would have asked Salford Council for a response but the Council has not responded to requests for comments from the Star for over five years.

* Yesterday the Council also posted more information about the nurseries' finance on its website – click here for details

Main photo by Steven Speed shows the meeting voting in favour of halting any consultation on nursery closures, with a sea of aloft hands surrounding the Salford City Mayor

joe o neill wrote
at 15:48:27 on 23 February 2018
I think people need to look at Lisa Stones response and then revaluate the questions on if the council where able to seek flexibility. It's a long response but worth the read. I am breaking it down and preparing freedom of information request. She claims the council where not eligible.
 
Bob the regular wrote
at 11:45:10 on 22 February 2018
A hung council. I like the sound of that .I'll pay for the rope.
 
David Prince wrote
at 05:45:15 on 22 February 2018
This is just typical of a council that knows it will never be replaced until salford wake up and make it a hung council nothing will change you do not have to vote Tory to make a hung council this council need to lose seats fast
 
Bob the regular wrote
at 18:02:15 on 21 February 2018
Something fishy about this.Why have they not asked the government dept for help? We all know how mean the government are, but all we would be asking for is a bit of flexibility, not more cash . Why do our rulers seem to not want to ask for a little favour? Are they afraid of a little scrutiny from high up?
 
Ashleigh Ainsworth wrote
at 10:45:30 on 21 February 2018
My son attends Barton moss nursery. He has special needs, he has severe cerebral palsy and is developmentally delayed in all areas. He is just 1 of 87 children who will suffer if these nurseries close, along with their parents. The additional support and vast experience these children receive from LA nurseries and their staff cannot be replaced elsewhere. It's disgusting that Salford council did not apply for flexibility in their funding.
 
Felsey wrote
at 10:45:26 on 21 February 2018
Safeguard these jobs to safeguard those children. It makes me sick to think a Labour Council seems to be using the vulnerable young children as political point scoring against the Tories. I do not care which Party is to blame just be The Mayor and say no to the nursery closures. If you cannot take that executive decision I say resign and let someone F in ELSE do the job. Do we have to wipe our elected Councillors' bums to get them to see reason. I am very very angry at Salford Council.
 
Mary ferrer wrote
at 10:45:14 on 21 February 2018
If Salford haven't asked for help.shouldn't we be asking get them WHY.if this is the case how much more haven't they done over the last few years.
 
wrote
at 10:44:21 on 21 February 2018
That photo! Looks like Denet is not enjoying being Mayor.
 
Bob the regular wrote
at 10:44:03 on 21 February 2018
It looks to me as if the truth of this situation has perhaps been presented in a sort of slanted odd way, perhaps by more than one party. All parties have to put their cards on the table and be straight with each other.It also looks like the wicked Tories are perhaps not as wicked as they are made out to be. Unison have got to fight these closures. I tell you what,let us all vote tory at the next council election, with a more tory council, unison might just put up a bit of a fight.
 
Alice wrote
at 18:01:50 on 20 February 2018
It suits the Government to have the community at loggerheads with the LA, especially if it is a Labour one. We actually need more collaboration with the LA, the unions and the community. The LA must represent its residents. Stop the consultation first then get talking. Tbare some good signs.
 
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