A HUDDERSFIELD nursery saved from closure last year now looks certain to face the axe.
Councillors will be asked to shut Cambridge Road Day Nursery when they meet next week after a report said staying open would not be viable.
Angry protesters launched a massive campaign last Spring when three council- run nurseries – Cambridge Road, Sankofa in Hillhouse and Tiddlywinks in Deighton – were earmarked for closure.
A 5,000-signature petition and a pram-push through Birkby were among the protests organised to object to the plans.
In September 2007, the Council announced it would close Sankofa, save Tiddlywinks and allow Cambridge Road to remain open while a review was carried out.
But the investigation – which ended last month – revealed the nursery was still less than half full and supported plans to shut the town centre venue.
Clr Jim Dodds, Kirklees Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We have listened very carefully to everyone’s views on this important issue and delayed implementing our previous decision so we could take a further look at the situation.
“I agreed last year to delay closure and carry out an assessment of child care provision in the area, and likely future needs.
“In the meantime, we have had an open access policy for the nursery – we have not held back on allowing parents to place their children in the nursery.
“The latest figures show that it is less than half full, and that there are more than enough childcare places available from other providers in the catchment area.
“I am quite happy to change my mind if I can be convinced it is justified.
“The facts and figures simply do not stack up to justify keeping the nursery open.
“We need to move with the times and support the provision of day nursery care in modern facilities that provide a range of family services at a local community level.”
He said most families with young children wanted childcare places nearer home, not in the town centre, and believed there was already enough provision for those looking for places near the town centre.
But parent Mel Mills – who helped spearhead the nursery campaign – disagreed.
She said: “All this scaremongering has gone on, so people have not brought their children there because they think it is going to close.
“But there is so much going on now in Huddersfield town centre and, with new homes being built in Birkby, it is inevitable there will be a big demand.
“It is so convenient for parents who work in town or commute by train. I just can’t see why they want to close it.”
Ashbrow councillor Ken Smith also questioned figures provided by the report. He said: “The report recommends closure based on an argument that there is plenty of other provision.
“But the report’s own figures say the opposite, since closing Cambridge Road would cause an immediate shortfall of three places in full day-care provision within half a mile of Huddersfield and a prediction of more demand coming from new housing in the Birkby area.
“Cambridge Road received an extremely good report from OFSTED, the council’s childrens services underspent by £1.6m last year, the council wants to encourage economic activity in Huddersfield and help parents get back to work, so where is any logic in a closure?
“The Tory Cabinet would be going against its own targets for improving Huddersfield if it insists on saving money when it doesn’t need to – and at the expense of under 5s and their parents.”