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Greens call out Brighton & Hove City Council’s claim to ‘save’ BrightStart nursery as ‘smoke and mirrors.’

Proposal removes under two’s provision, reduces number of places and forces closure of existing facilities.

Plans to close the site of the BrightStart nursery and relocate some nursery places to Tarner Family Hub have been criticised by Green Councillors as closure of the nursery by stealth.

The Labour Council’s proposals to shut down the existing site and relocate children will see the number of places reduce from 39 per session to 16, reduce the number of hours children can be in nursery and cease the provision of places for under two-year olds.

Funding for the nursery was secured for a further year during the budget setting process in 2023/24, during the Green minority administration.

A meeting of the council’s Children, Families and Schools Committee was asked by the Labour Council to vote to ‘agree the preferred option, to move the BrightStart nursery provision to Tarner Family Hub.’

Green Councillor Sue Shanks, opposition member of the Children, Families and Schools committee and ward councillor for West Hill and North Laine where BrightStart is based, commented: “For Labour Councillors to claim they are ‘saving’ BrightStart nursery when they are moving to close the building, slash the number of places, stop offering spaces to under twos and reduce the number of hours is disingenuous.

“We’ve heard directly from parents who have seen through the smoke and mirrors. I share their worries that this appears to be a done deal, as councillors have not been asked to agree to a wider consultation. Instead we are asked to ‘agree’ the proposal to move places to Tarner Family Hub. Given we know all committee proposals are overseen by the Labour Council, it’s clear this is their preference.

“As one of the few more affordable nurseries in the city centre, the council must do more to retain childcare places, instead of proposing closure first and speaking to parents second. At the time of a nationwide childcare crisis, we urge Labour Councillors to meaningfully consult with parents on the full range of options.”


Notes

[1] Committee papers state:
That [the] Committee agrees the preferred option to move the Bright Start Nursery provision to Tarner Family Hub as outlined in the paper. Bright Start Nursery has a high percentage of disadvantaged children on roll, last term 28% received Early Years Pupil Premium, 16% were two-year Funded, and 31% were ‘SEND’ children.
Bright Start Nursery has 18 staff and a formal staff consultation will be required if any changes are made to Bright Start Nursery.
4.2.3: The new model would reduce the number of available places by 39 per session but would enable a focus on disadvantaged families supporting them to access high quality free childcare that would work as part of the Tarner Family Hub. The model would change the age range with places available from two years old instead of under twos. Any children under two at September 2024 would be supported to find alternative provision via the childcare brokerage officer.
https://democracy.brighton-hove.gov.uk/documents/s194302/Bright%20Start%20Options%20Report.pdf