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Nursery education cuts back on Labour agenda

October 10, 2014 9:00 AM

RCT's Labour Cabinet meet this morning to discuss another round of savings, cuts and price increases. Most controversial amongst these will be the plans to cut nursery education from full to part time. This proposal was first made last year but the Council were taken to court by parents via a judicial review and the decision was deemed unlawful.

The very fact that this report is back before Cabinet today indicates that their minds have already been made up. There is a dogged determination on the part of the Director and the Labour Cabinet to push forward with this plan no matter what.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell says

"They have been here before, carried out a consultation exercise at some considerable expense and know the answer that will I am sure once again come from parents, staff, governors and my Welsh Liberal Democrat colleagues and myself.

"The shame is that they have been here before but you have failed to learn any lessons.

"This report is clinical, adding in all the bits of law that should have been in here last time. What is hardly mentioned is the key word - education. Instead there is a cynical insertion of a few paragraphs to meet what the Officers have interpreted as the requirements of the Judge to make it lawful. "

As the revised report being put to Cabinet states:

Ultimately what is "sufficient" nursery education for this Council's area is a matter of judgement for the Cabinet, based on what it considers the benefits of any particular amount of education and the particular educational needs of children of the County Borough to be.

There will be further reports presented outlining how much childcare is available, something that was missing last time. Unfortunately there is no definitive indication of just how much is "sufficient" - that is left to the judgement of the Cabinet.

Cllr Powell added

"The simple fact is that the Labour administration made their minds up a year ago, but rather than actually look properly into the benefits or indeed otherwise of full time education and assess it fully they dug your heels in and here we are again

"Theyhave done nothing to address any of the concerns raise about childcare issues. Yes they have updated their audit and will no doubt decide there is a "sufficiency" but if they were serious about equality and addressing any of the issues then they would have done more to try and address the deficit that exists in certain areas.

"I hope I am proven wrong in this case, but I have little doubt at this point that theywill all nod this through yet again as they did last time, and yet again they will have a fight on their hands."