Friday brief: Local authority run nurseries on the brink of survival
Plus some news in brief, Westminster Watch, our indy business of the week and activities for the weekend
The reality of the maintained nurseries in North Northamptonshire being on the brink of survival was made loud and clear at the schools forum yesterday.
The north unitary authority is proposing to redistribute funding to the four nurseries in Northamptonshire which could see Pen Green Centre in Corby lose as much as £700,000 and an increase to the other three nurseries, Ronald Tree in Kettering and Highfield and Croyland in Wellingborough.
The Wellingborough nurseries are in deficit, while Pen Green, which runs an integrated early years service, has a healthy bank balance.
A decision on how to redistribute the funding will be made on Tuesday by the unitary council’s executive led by Conservative leader Jason Smithers. On Monday the council’s chief executive Rob Bridge will have a discussion with the department for education about additional funding. Currently there is around £939,000 to distribute between the four nurseries.
After a lengthy discussion the schools forum decided not to vote on the issue and instead suggested some preferences and to reiterate the need for money for the maintained nurseries sector.
At the meeting Pen Green’s joint head Angela Prodger laid out the long history of Pen Green and reeled off the list of services it runs across Corby. As well as its on-site maintained nursery and early years centre it has an off site nursery and has a research and training hub with 270 students. She said historically additional funding had been given to Pen Green as an integrated centre, which offered many more services than a traditional nursery. She said two thirds of the funding was given for Pen Green while the other nurseries were to share one third.
Cllr Mark Pengelly, who is the ward councillor for the Lloyds ward where Pen Green is located hit out at the officers, saying they had let down the schools forum and the councillors.
He said throughout the scrutiny process, while Pen Green had been mentioned the huge cuts to funding had not been. He also warned of a judicial review if the funding changes went ahead.
The issue of reallocation proved to be divisive between the nurseries as chair of finance at Ronald Tree nursery Mike Leeke said his nursery had had to make big cuts to staff hours and now there was no money left.
“The children of Ronald Tree are receiving significantly less than the children of Corby despite their need being just as high, if not higher than the pupils of Pen Green.”
Lyndsey Barnett, who is head of the Camrose Nursery in Northampton (which is itself facing cuts) and also head of the Wellingborough maintained nurseries also said the funding needed to be better distributed and more should be given to her nurseries.
She said that if the money was not shared more equally they would not exist in the coming years.
News in brief
Labour town and unitary councillors are working with local company Goodwill Solutions to arrange warehouse space and logistics and transport support for donations to Ukraine.
Leader of the Town Council, Cllr Jane Birch says, “The community needs practical help. The Town Council has been working to get storage facilities for donations and somewhere dry where they can sort, pack and load lorries. We are pleased to have developed a partnership with Goodwill Solutions who are providing warehouse space and lots of tea and sandwiches for the volunteers.”
Development director for Goodwill Solutions, John, says, “This is a humanitarian crisis and we must all do what we can to help. There is a huge voluntary effort going on with donations coming in from the community. It all needs to be processed and sent as quickly as can be. We will do everything we possibly can to support this effort.”
Corby man Brian Foley has been charged with five offences in connection with an incident at the Morrisons Supermarket in the town last month which resulted in a member of staff being slashed with a knife. The 43 year-old will appear in court on April 27th.
West and North Northamptonshire Councils held remembrance and reflection events to thank social care workers who provided “crucial care and support” during the pandemic and to remember the workers and people in care who lost their lives.
The events included a minute’s silence, tributes led by school children and social care staff and a memorial book for people to sign.
Wellingborough MP Peter Bone has called on the government to withdraw P&O Ferries’ licence following the immediate sacking of 800 staff only for them to be replaced by agency workers. The company told staff over a video call that they would no longer be required leading to some workers staging a ‘sit-in’ on boats and others blocking a road near Dover port.
Responding to Bone, minister for aviation and maritime Robert Coutts said:
“I have been clear that the behaviour we have seen today is absolutely unacceptable and I will keep saying so.”
Independent business of the week
Belle’s Brook Cafe
Belle’s Brook replaces the former Nook cafe in Raunds. The friendly new owners offer a warm welcome and a tasty menu, they are also responding to feedback from customers and will be introducing new items from next week.
🛍 There’s a vintage and craft fair at Abington Park Museum on Saturday between 11am - 4pm
📚 Raunds library is holding a children’s spring activities day on Saturday between 10am - 2pm
🎤 60s SKA and punk tribute act Eton Rivals is performing at the Brixworth Sports Club tonight at 8.30pm
🎵 There’s a 70s music show at the Castle Theatre tonight at 7.30pm. Tickets here: https://www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/castle-theatre/Ticket/ddd0a3f1-b063-ea11-a9d1-8de937229f59/supersonic-70s/689775