COUNCIL officers are running down a crèche used by hundreds of parents, a union has claimed.
Kirklees Council’s Communi-crèche cares for children for free while their parents are attending college and training courses.
The group, based in Britannia Mills on Colne Road, runs about 60 crèches a week around Kirklees.
But trade union Unison believes the public sector-funded childcare programme is being secretly run down by Kirklees officers.
The authority has confirmed the service is “under review”.
Communi-crèche cares for hundreds of children each year.
The service currently employs six or seven permanent staff and around a dozen casual workers.
Kirklees Unison education convenor Mike Foster said yesterday: “Our members at the crèche were told not to take any more bookings after Easter.
“Council managers have begun to wind down the service and direct parents towards private sector providers.
“Managers claim the council can no longer afford to run Communi-crèche. However, as yet, neither the Cabinet or the council has taken the decision to cut the service.
“Without any political direction from the council, managers have decided to do away with a very popular and well-used service. We want to know why managers feel they can act without the council having made a decision.”
Mr Foster called on Labour, which runs a minority administration on Kirklees, to protect Communi-crèche.
The party is the biggest group on the 69-strong council and increased its numbers from 24 to 27 in this month’s Kirklees election.
Mr Foster said: “We hope the new council, with its increased number of Labour councillors, makes an ethical and political decision based on the facts.”
He added: “The Government claims to want to help parents back into work but these measures penalise parents and will discourage them from being able to pursue an independent lifestyle.”
But the council last night denied that a final decision had been taken on Communi-crèche.
A Kirklees spokeswoman said: “Demand for the local authority’s Communi-crèche service has been diminishing due to the emergence and expansion of the Pre-school Learning Alliance as an alternative crèche provider in Kirklees.
“Councillors have requested a review of Communi-crèche which is under way. As yet no final decision has been made about its future.”