THE man leading the controversial plan to shut three Huddersfield nurseries has defended the move.
But Clr Jim Dodds said he would oppose the closures if he had a child at one of the nurseries.
In February Kirklees councillors decided to shut Sankofa Nursery in Hillhouse, Tiddlywinks in Deighton and the Cambridge Road Nursery.
But a review of the decision was ordered the following month after campaigners collected 5,000 signatures against the plan.
And yesterday Clr Dodds, Cabinet member for children’s services, gave evidence to a special committee of councillors looking into the issue.
He said: “I still think closure is the right decision. If I was a parent with a child at one of the nurseries I would be opposing the closures but as a Cabinet member I have to think about the whole of Kirklees.”
Clr Dodds revealed that the three nurseries had been subsidised by Kirklees Council to the tune of £412,000 in 2005/06. Tiddlywinks received £188,000, Cambridge Road Nursery got £137,000 and Sankofa £87,000.
Clr Dodds believes this is unfair to people in other parts of Kirklees that don’t have council-run nurseries.
He said: “What do I say to someone in Cleckheaton or Clayton West who asks why Kirklees isn’t subsidising their children’s nursery? They are council tax payers too.”
And Clr Dodds told the committee meeting at the Methodist Mission that he believed all the children at the three nurseries could be accommodated elsewhere.
The Denby Dale councillor said: “First of all we have to sit down with the parents individually to see what they are looking for. As it stands, there are more vacancies in the catchment area than there are children at the three nurseries.”
Clr Dodds defended privately- funded nurseries, which have been criticised by some parents.
He said: “I believe private sector nurseries have come in for some undue criticism. I visited Birkby Bees recently and it’s smashing.
“It’s true that council-run nurseries pay staff better, but all nurseries have to meet the same requirements set by school inspectors Ofsted.”
Clr Dodds revealed that in December council officers had recommended he close the nurseries. But he said: “Perhaps I should have spoken to councillors in the wards affected, prior to the decision.”
Clr Dodds said the review report should go to Cabinet in September.