PLANS that will hopefully secure the futures of two nurseries and a day care facility in North East Lincolnshire will be developed in the coming weeks.
North East Lincolnshire’s Council Leader, Cllr Philip Jackson, along with Deputy Leader, Councillor Stan Shreeve, and Portfolio Holder for Children and Education, Cllr Margaret Cracknell, have participated in meetings with representatives from Scartho and Great Coates Nursery Schools and the Reynolds Day Care facility.
Head teachers, managers, governors, parents, and ward councillors joined Council Cabinet members and officers at the three individual meetings to discuss the way forward. The facilities are all council-owned but do run as separate businesses with responsibilities for maintaining healthy roles and budgets.
It was agreed that council officers will work with the three settings to look at business plans and explore all options for a successful future. Follow up meetings will be held with the Cabinet members coming back around the table in October to review progress and determine any further actions. It is hoped that this will lead to the facilities being back on stable footings going forward.
Councillor Margaret Cracknell, portfolio holder for children and education at North East Lincolnshire Council, said:
“I’m really pleased that we have been able to get those interested parties around the table to try to come up with ways to save these settings, which are clearly valued by their communities.
“Cabinet made the decision to halt the consultation after it became clear that there is some affection and strength of feeling for these settings. It’s right that we now take stock of those responses and enter into productive discussions with them.
“As a Council we get very little financial support to maintain and run these settings, so we are working with the settings to consider other options to make the settings viable for the future.
“We need to be clear – there remain some challenges, including numbers of children and financing of the settings, but I am optimistic that the settings can overcome these challenges with creative solutions.”
Deputy Council Leader, Councillor Stan Shreeve, chaired the three meetings, and said there was a real opportunity for innovation:
“Each of the meetings yielded some really positive discussion and I’m hopeful that, going forward, the settings themselves will continue to be innovative in their thinking. As a Council, we will of course offer what support we can, but it is important that they lead these plans, and commit to developing a sustainable model for the future.”
As reported, the council’s Cabinet members officially stopped a public consultation into the future of the three facilities last month, following a big response. Instead, the senior councillors wanted time to have a thorough analysis of issues around low capacity and financial deficits that could have put all three facilities at risk.