A MUM-OF-TWO on maternity leave fears she may be unable to return to work because of plans to close her children’s nursery.
Debbie Whitehead is due to return to her marketing job in June and was banking on baby Alexander being able to attend the same daycare centre as his brother Christian, age four.
Now she and her husband are among dozens of parents left reeling after Kirklees council leaders said they would be asking councillors to axe Cambridge Road Day Nursery at a meeting next Wednesday.
The council-run nursery was one of three earmarked for closure last February, along with Tiddlywinks at Deighton and Sankofa in Hillhouse.
Councillors agreed to delay their decision on the nursery – just outside the town centre – to allow a review of childcare provision to be carried out.
But the review report – published this week – found there were enough childcare providers with vacancies within half-a-mile and recommended that the nursery be shut.
It listed five alternatives for parents needing to drop their children close to the town centre.
But Debbie, 35, who lives in Birkby, said finding a place would not be that simple.
She added: “I can’t find anywhere that I can afford in the right area that has places available for my baby.
“I could not have been happier with that nursery and am devastated my baby can’t go there.
“I’m due back at work in June and will have to pay back my maternity pay if I don’t go back.
“I’m really worried. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Debbie said that out of the five alternative nurseries with vacancies detailed in the report none of them met her needs as a parent.
She added: “They are not an option for me. Parents really look around other nurseries before they decide where to send their children.
“I have looked around them and turned them down for good reasons.
“It is also the money too. Paying £6 more a day might not sound a lot, but it is a lot of money over the year, especially for single parents or those on low incomes.
“I only hope they don’t start turfing out the new children out and start taking staff away.
“I’m not sure when Cambridge Road will close or what the notice period is. But I would like to see it staying open until next year when all the children will have reached age two or school age.”
Clr Jim Dodds, Kirklees Council’s Cabinet member for children’s services, said the nursery – which costs the council almost £200,000 a year – had seen dwindling numbers for years, long before closure was announced.
He could not say when it might shut until the issue had been discussed with parents.
He added: “We have got to look at this whole situation sensitively because it is about the staff as well.
“If the decision is taken to go ahead and close it we will make sure we help all we can to find adequate places for the children.
“It will remain open for as long as it takes to find the best possible solution for parent and child.
“I’m quite happy that there are sufficient vacancies within the area to accommodate them.
“At the moment, the parents are being subsidised by the Government and we are having to pay to keep it open for only 27 children.
“It is a big subsidy per child.
“If there is sufficient child care in the private sector the council is not required to provide it.”