THE future of five Wirral day nurseries remains unknown after Wirral’s ruling cabinet deferred discussions until a later date.
Nurseries in Liscard, Birkenhead, Claughton and Rock Ferry could be taken over by neighbouring schools if plans set to save £772,000 a year are given the go ahead.
But they would only operate during term time and normal school hours, meaning parents would need to make alternative arrangements.
Wirral’s cabinet, which met at Wallasey Town Hall on Thursday, had been expected to make a decision on the proposals but instead deferred it for further work and consultation.
Councillors did however agree that the provision of New Brighton Day Nursery – the only one to receive a confirmed offer from outside organisations - would be transferred to a Social Enterprise model of delivery in partnership with New Brighton Day Nursery Ltd on September 1.
A spokesperson for Wirral Council said: “Cabinet took a decision to progress with the proposal for New Brighton day nursery but to undertake further work and consultation regarding the others and bring a further report back to a future cabinet meeting.”
Discussions are still ongoing over the future of Miriam Place day nursery, based at Bidston St James Centre, who have “expressed a tentative expression of interest” in developing a social, not commercial model for the two, three and four year old education on offer”.
Councillor Tony Smith, Wirral’s cabinet member for children and family services, said: “As there is already provision across the private, voluntary and independent sectors, and at this time of considerable pressure on budgets, we as a Council are proposing to stop delivering this service.
“We will support any family affected by working with them to manage the transition to another provider. This will include drawing up individual plans in partnership with each parent or carer, and preparing contingencies to enable us to provide support if we need to.
“Staff affected have been briefed and we are asking schools to ring fence posts of a similar nature for those whose jobs are at risk.”
Although parents pay for their children to use the council’s nursery service, it still requires a £772,000 a year subsidy from the council.
The plans, agreed last year as part of the council’s budget options, will enable that money to be saved by removing the need for the council to subsidise the service.
The nurseries affected are New Brighton Day Nursery, Honey Bees Day Nursery, Reach High Day Nursery, Miriam Place, Windmill Day Nursery and Little Ferries Day Nursery.
The day nursery service delivered by the council was originally supported by grant funding made available through the national Neighbourhood Nursery Initiative and Surestart.
Neither of those funding streams remain available today, leaving a shortfall of £722,000 to be met by the council.